Score & Parts
The Luberon is a massif (a close-knit group of mountains) in central Provence in the south of France. It is composed of three mountain ranges, The Lesser Luberon (Petit Luberon), the Greater Luberon (Grand Luberon) and the Eastern Luberon (Luberon oriental). I have visited this region several times over many years, in a rich mix of climates, and even turned aspects into music during the course of my journies.
Readers may well be most familiar with the area through Peter Mayle’s novel A Year in Provence and other volumes concerning themselves with the people and culture of Provence. Mayle’s first French mas (country farmhouse) was located in Menerbes and it was to this town that I first came, a guest of English Francophiles and to whose various abodes I have returned ever since.
My Luberon Dances echo some aspects of French dance music but only very loosely. It would be better described as a piece of France through the eyes and ears of an English visitor happily absorbing the landscape and culture on a mini tour of the area. I have given each of the five brief movements a subtitle taken from a town or village within, or close by, the area and a secondary tempo indication which is that of a specific French dance form. Again the latter is to be treated with a dash of poetic licence. The essence of the piece is its tribute to a special place and the people associated with it. Who cares about nuance when armed with a glass of Pastis and a well seasoned truffle omelette?!
1: Menerbes (Ouverture) – the village is set on a high hilltop surrounded by a wall, with a citadel at its wesern end. The music is a gentle opening dance entirely in 6/8 which moves from arco (bowed) at its opening to pizzicato (plucked) by its conclusion.
2: Roussillion (Rigaudon) – this village is distinguished by its ochre deposits delivering it many impressive red cliffs and quarries. The music is cast in constantly changing time signatures providing much rhythmic dexterity between its two subjects: a brittle fanfare and a percussive, yet lyrical, folk-style dance.
3: Notre Dame de Lumieres (Courante) – this discrete hamlet is located in a valley and was once a major place of pilgrimage in Provence. The music is more intimate with three soloists (violin, viola and cello) pitted against a rocking ostinato figure in the main body of strings.
4: Bonnieux (Pastorale) – one of the many historic hill villages in the region, Bonnieux keeps a watchful eye on events below. The music is essentially pastoral maintaining its lyrical 6/8 gait throughout and featuring some high whispering harmonics, as comments, here and there.
5: Lacoste (Rondeau) – the old mountain village boasts the ruins of the castle lived in by the infamous Marquis de Sade. The music is a highly charged rhythmic rondo, again featuring ever changing time signatures, and concluding this essentially French dance suite with a very English perfect cadence!
Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, Bass