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by Guy Woolfenden

Grade 4.5 duration 10 minutes



  II Can Can

This work is inspired by four paintings by the French painter Georges Seurat, but does not attempt to recreate his pointillist technique in musical terms. The first movement, Parade, contrasts the strange gas-lit world of La Parade de Cirque: Invitation to the Sideshow, which features a sinister-looking trombone player and his ghostly acolytes, with the cool detached stance of that great masterpiece A Bathing Place: Asnières. The second movement, Can Can, recreates the world of two other paintings: Le Cirque and Le Chahut, which depicts a curiously stylised Can Can in full swing, accompanied by a pit orchestra. The phrase “faire du chahut” means to make a racket!

French Impressions was as fun and light-hearted as Woolfenden himself. The first movement was playfully carefree, meandering from a sauntering, airy character to climactic, grand proportions, absentmindedly back and forth - in that sense, decidedly “impressionistic”. The second movement, Can Can, was even more festive, to the point of being riotous.

The Harvard Independent

The Parade is flowing, full of melancholy and based on a short thematic idea which Woolfenden keeps presenting in a new light. The lively Can Can is an original independent movement, owing little to Offenbach’s example.

Clarino Magazine


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