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Swiss Dances


for four-handed piano, M.635 (2003-4)



LISTEN TO THE FIRST EXCERPT (end of the Ländler) :




LISTEN TO THE SECOND EXCERPT (beginning of the Polka) :






LISTEN TO THE THIRD EXCERPT (Dance of the Wild Man) :






Performers :


Dominique Derron and Pius Urech, piano



This series of 6 Swiss Dances is made of the following pieces : Ländler, Coraules, Polka, Dwarves Gallop, Totentanz (Dance of Death) and Dance of the wild man. The first three are written on themes inspired by the Swiss Folklore, whereas the last three are more freely inspired, though referring to traditional elements of Switzerland. The first performance took place with the piano duo Dominique Derron and Pius Urech on July 15th, 2004, in Neuchâtel.


Duration of the work : approximately 15 minutes



Commentary of the work by the composer :


These 6 Swiss Dances have been written in 2003-4, at the suggestion of the Piano Duo of Dominique Derron and Pius Urech to write pieces with dancing character for four-handed piano. After having been inspired in other works by different traditions of music (music of the Far East, of Central Asia, Klezmer music, etc.), I wanted to explore some themes taken from the Swiss patrimony.  



While the Ländler and the Polka transform and vary thematic fragments which are close to the Swiss folkloric music, the only piece near to the original figures is the one called “Coraules”, based on dances, bearing the same name, of the Gruyère region.



As for the three following pieces, they are as well inspired by dance movements used during the 19th century (however without basing themselves on specific musical motives of the folklore), as by typically Swiss subjects : the Dwarves, of which the most famous species proliferates in some gardens, are well known for their jovial and uncultivated dances. In Switzerland are to be found some of the most ancient and famous pictural examples of the Dance of Death. They show human beings of every ages and conditions, confronted to Death, which leads them in its horrifying and icy round dance. At last, the Wild Man, which is to be found in the imaginary of many European countries under different forms (some covered with leaves, others with fur, and the Winter Man), is also known in Switzerland, in different metamorphoses too, among which the terrifying masks of the Lötschental region.


Laurent Mettraux, June 17th, 2004