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Suite, "Erinnyes"

Jules Massenet
(1842-1912)



The suite "Les Erinnyes" is made up for concert purposes from incidental music which Massenet wrote for the antique tragedy of the same name written by Leconte de Lisle in 1872. The story of the drama pertains to the murder of Agamemnon and the revenge of Orestes, his son, who slays his mother Clytemnestra. The first movement, entr’acte, is an Andante appassionato, and is composed of the elaboration of a passionate theme first given out in the violins in unison, with accompaniment in the other strings, and then repeated in ampler form. The movement leads to a Grecian dance in three sections, in the first of which the flutes give out the dance theme with pizzicato accompaniment in the strings. After the development of this theme and a counter theme, the time changes, and the music works up to a climax and closes Allegro vivo assai. The remainder of the movement partakes of the same general character and does not call for special consideration. The next movement, "Scène Religieuse," is the best known part of the suite, as it is the most frequently performed, by reason of its opportunity for an impressive cello solo. It depicts the funeral rites at the tomb of Agamemnon, and consists of a solemn dance rhythm. It is in reality a stately antique Minuet, the music being assigned to the strings and flutes with harp accompaniment. Its Trio is an invocation, in which the muted cello sings a pathetic and expressive melody, accompanied by the other strings, also muted. After the trio is finished the first part of the suite is repeated. The Finale is composed of an agitated dance theme, or rather a series of phrases, fully and freely elaborated.





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