Dolly Suite, Opus 56
Composed by Gabriel Faure
Arranged for Four Flutes and Piano by Judy Nishimura
Published by Alry Publications
Total duration: ca. 16 minutes
Includes score and parts
A charming suite in six movements composed for the young daughter of Gabriel Faure's longtime mistress. The movements are titled: Berceuse, Mi-A-Ou, Le Jardin de Dolly, Kitty-Valse, Tendresse, Le Pas Espagnol.
Program Notes by Judy Nishimura:
In the middle years of the 1890's, one of France's foremost composers, Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) wrote a charming set of piano duets for the young daughter of his longtime mistress. The little girl, Helene Bardac, was nicknamed Dolly because of her diminutive size. (Her mother, singer Emma Bardac, was to become the second wife of Claude Debussy.) These duets commemorated birthdays or other events in the little girl's life. The first, Berceuse (“Cradle Song”), was written much earlier but revised and re-purposed as a lullaby for Dolly. The next was the mis-named Mi-a-ou, which has nothing to do with the vocalizitions of a cat, as many have thought. Instead, it is a play on Dolly's pronunciation of her brother Raoul's name. Her version of “Messieu Raoul” came out sounding like “Miaou.” The hypens were mistakenly added by Faure's publisher. The third piece, Le Jardin de Dolly (“Dolly's Garden”), with its sweet melody, is a charming musical depiction of a child's ideal garden. The fourth piece is another mistaken cat reference: Kitty-Valse. This was actually a lighthearted whirling waltz inspired by Dolly's puppy, “Ketty.” In the next piece, Tendresse, Faure's romantic chromaticism comes to fore. Like the Berceuse, this piece was dedicated to another person but was revised for Dolly. Lastly, the lively La Pas Espagnol (“Spanish Dance”) was purportedly inspired by a Spanish scuplture that sat on the mantelpiece of Dolly's house. The innocense and lyrical qualities of these piano duets shows a composer who was bridging the gap between the romanticism of Chopin and the modernism of Ravel. Dolly herself (later Madame Gaston de Tinan) lived a long life, passing away in 1985 at the age of 92.
Since the original suite was composed as a piano duet, much of the Primo part calls for both hands to play the melody doubled in octaves. This doubling has been greatly reduced in this arrangement, hopefully easing any intonation problems that would've occurred. The piano adds a much needed anchor to the highness of the flutes, and consequently spends a lot of time in the lower registers. The short movements make it easy to program one or several parts of the suite for any concert. If performed in its entirety, the Suite takes about 16 minutes.