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Nigel Keay: Le Loup et l'Ag...Embedded audio
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Nigel Keay’s Le Loup et l’Agneau was composed at the beginning of 2017, for the pianist Jérémie Honnoré and the narrator François Castang, as a musical illustration of La Fontaine’s fable of the same name, where, "La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure". The fable is read by the narrator throughout the course of the piece.
The work begins with a moderately paced Andante as an introduction. The ambiance is tranquil to begin with. Certain musical elements represent aspects of the fable; the arrival of the wolf is expressed through a dissonant three-note major/minor chord, employed after announcing his presence halfway through the introduction, although even the very first notes sounded on the piano, a single note melody, outline this particular chord implying the creature’s omnipresence.
The music shifts gear by picking up the tempo at the beginning of a second part. The mood is rather upbeat but without being urgent, and expressed and notated as an Allegro Moderato.
After several bars the music arrives at some sustained chords superimposed with the narration on the subject of the lamb's reasoning. An interlude on the toy piano is an echo of the lamb defending his position. A few menacing words from the wolf interrupt the toy piano interlude, but it continues with another statement from the lamb, its last word of defence at the end of the interlude.
In stark contrast to the higher-pitched tones of the toy piano, the piano returns with slow ominously dark sounding chords announcing the vengeful intentions of the wolf. At this moment the pulse of the music is slow, and marked Grave.
Commissioned by Jérémie Honnoré for Musique à la Ferme, Lançon-Provence.
Dedicated to Jérémie Honnoré and François Castang.
Text by Jean de La Fontaine in the Public Domain.