Trio for Flute, Cello and Harp
Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society
This Trio is a surprising discovery and an exciting addition to the repertoire. Written in 1934, the piece was mentioned in biographies but the score was missing until April 2013, when the autograph manuscript was found. This edition is based on that original source.
The history of the Trio is fascinating, and outlined in some detail in the score’s preface, written by Sylvain Blassel. It is thought that the suggestion for a trio for flute, cello and harp came from Varèse, who met harpist Carlos Salzedo in the USA, Varèse returned to France in 1928, and suggested to Jolivet that he might be interested to write a trio for Salzedo’s BSB Trio, comprising Barrère, Salzedo and cellist Horace Britt. The composition of the trio is documented in correspondence between Jolivet and Varèse, and the harp writing draws considerably on the information provided in Salzedo’s Modern Study of the Harp which was published in 1921. However, Salzedo was unimpressed by Jolivet’s Trio and the piece was forgotten.
The Trio uses a broad range of sounds and timbral effects for the harp, including xylophonic, guitaric and plectric sounds among others. This provides numerous challenges for the harp player, as well as a highly imaginative range of sonorities. The f lute and cello parts are less adventurous, although the cello part contains some double stopping. The flute part has some flutter tonguing, and, most remarkably, two 4th octave E flats, which are fairly unusual in the repertoire as a whole, and particularly uncommon at that time. Written two years before Density 21.5 which makes extensive use of high D, it is interesting to consider the potential influence this piece may have had on Varèse.
The Trio is in one continuous movement, gradually gaining momentum as it progresses, before the tempo dissipates towards the end. Jolivet’s characteristic musical language is ever present, with expressively twisting melodic lines and enjoyable intervallic relationships. Timbre and texture are important elements within the music, and it is interesting to see how he develops the relationships between the three instruments throughout.
This is a very welcome re-addition to the repertoire, which deserves to be more widely known.
From the Publisher
André Jolivet (1905-1974) composed this Trio for flute, cello and harp in 1934 and the score had never seen the light of day since. It was during an auction of several scores by André Jolivet that the manuscript was unearthed in 2013.
The idea of the composition of the Trio was suggested by Edgard Varèse during his years of apprenticeship in Paris. Varèse had forged ties with harpist Carlos Salzedo and his trio with flautist Georges Barrère and cellist Horace Britt, the BSB Trio, committed to new music. It was through Varèse that Jolivet intended his trio for these three musicians.
Sylvain Blassel, harpist and fervent defender of contemporary music unearthed this trio and worked on the production of the score.