MILHAUD Darius, La Cheminée du roi René (extracts)
Milhaud grew up in Aix-en-Provence, and was always proud of his Provençal heritage. It was also in Aix that “Le bon Roi René” (René of Anjou, 1409–1480) spent the last years of his life, a he’s celebrated with a handsome statue in the Place Forbin. La Cheminée du Roi René is a suite for wind quintet drawn from the music Milhaud composed for a film score. Each of the short movements is a charming depiction of Good King René’s court as they make their way to favourite spots in Provence. It includes stately dances (the Cortège, and ‘La Maousinglade’, a Sarabande), jugglers, jousting on the River Arc and hunting at Valabre. By the time Milhaud reworked the music he had fled France, occupied by the Nazis from June 1940, and settled at Mills College at Oakland. The first performance of this quintessentially French piece was thus given in California, by the San Francisco Woodwind Quintet, on 5 March 1941.
Nigel Simeone ©