On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Henri Tomasi, and the 50th anniversary of his death, we adapted several of the composer’s pieces for our clarinet and organ duet, in collaboration with and with the support of his son, Claude Tomasi.
Between Paris, Marseille (the “Gateway to the Orient” that aroused so many of Henri Tomasi’s fantasies of escape to exotic lands) and the Alpilles Mountains, his body of work had many sources of inspiration. A Marseille-born Corsican and, inseparably, a man of Marseille of Corsican origins, Henri Tomasi liked to assert that he was Mediterranean. Corsica was one of his favourite sources of inspiration, as he was introduced to the island’s traditional music from a very young age. And so, in his Concerto for Clarinet, the first theme of the final scherzo was derived from a Corsican tarantella. Through dreams of escaping to exotic lands, the composition of Semaine Sainte à Cuzco (“Holy Week in Cuzco”), now adapted for Eb and Bb clarinets and organ, transports the audience on a mystical journey through the Andes.

Spirituality can be read between the lines of Tomasi’s work. In contrast with the transcendent virtuosity of the Concerto for Clarinet, the Variations Grégoriennes sur un Salve Regina (“Gregorian Variations on a Salve Regina”) develop the theme of the Virgin Mary, with rather austere tones.
The musical programmes performed by the duet are a stirring tribute to a profoundly humanist artist.

Programme (excerpts):

Henri Tomasi :

Concerto for Clarinet “with Organ” (syncretic version: Brice Montagnoux)
Semaine Sainte à Cuzco
Variations Grégoriennes sur un Salve Regina

Gabriel Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande (transcription for organ: Louis Robilliard)

Claude Debussy: Première Rhapsodie

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (transcription for organ: Jean Guillou)

Franz Liszt: Saint-François de Paule Marchant sur les Flots (transcription for organ: Louis Robilliard)

Francisco Correa de Arauxo: Canto Llano de la Immaculada Concepción

Instruments:

E-flat clarinet,
B-flat clarinet,
Organ

Concert venue:

Marseille, Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Friday, 25 June 2021, 8:30 pm. A co-production of Marseille Concerts and Cité de la Musique de Marseille.

Information (in French): https://marseilleconcerts.com/index.php/Evenements/autour-dhenri-tomasi
Online ticketing: www.citemusique-marseille.com

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