La fièvre du temps

La fièvre du temps

I am delight­ed to let you know that the album fea­tur­ing my reduc­tion of Ruy Coel­ho’s A princeza dos sap­atos de fer­ro has been released! La fièvre du temps (Baila­dos Por­tugue­ses I) is the first offer­ing in a series of planned record­ings by the extra­or­di­nary pianists Duarte Pereira Mar­tins and Philippe Mar­ques ded­i­cat­ed to explor­ing por­tuguese reper­toire for bal­let and dance, plac­ing them in dia­logue with canon­i­cal works of the genre.

Besides Ruy Coel­ho’s inci­den­tal music, the album also fea­tures Fer­nan­do Lopes-Graça’s Paris 1937, a col­lec­tion of dance-infused tableaux that harken back to the com­poser’s parisian sojourn, orig­i­nal­ly for two pianos and pre­sent­ed here four-hand­ed in the duo’s own arrange­ment. Com­plet­ing the album’s line­up are two oth­er works for the bal­let from around the same peri­od of ear­ly-mod­ernism: Rav­el’s La valse — sim­i­lar­ly arranged for piano four-hands by the inter­preters — and Pétrouch­ka, the sec­ond attempt at the form by a cer­tain young and up-and-com­ing com­pos­er you might have heard of.1

The album can now be ordered from mpm­p’s online store.

Adorn­ing the cov­er is a gouache ren­der­ing of one of the cos­tumes designed for the pro­duc­tion of A princeza dos sap­atos de fer­ro by Alma­da Negreiros, one of the spear­heads of Por­tuguese Mod­ernism. Not just any cos­tume, in fact: the Dev­ils, worn by Alma­da him­self on stage. A remark­able poly­math, he designed the cos­tumes, chore­o­graphed the danc­ing, and took on the roles of both Dev­il as well as Witch, anoth­er piv­otal role in the plot’s struc­ture.2 A princeza was pre­sent­ed at the Teatro Nacional de São Car­los, in 1918, not long after a four-month peri­od in which Diaghilev’s Bal­lets Russ­es were sta­tioned in Lis­bon.3 Although plans for the bal­let were already under­way, one can com­ment on the influ­ence of the com­pa­ny’s work (with which Alma­da min­gled dur­ing their stay in the coun­try) in the Por­tuguese artist’s out­put, if only to note the fau­vist tones in their eclec­tic mix of ear­ly Mod­ernist music and Orphic cubism. In both, we see des beaux arts inter­twin­ing with the per­for­mance arts, the lat­ter invad­ing the for­mer. The parisian spir­it of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. Tru­ly, la fièvre du temps.

  1. Well, Stravin­sky was only a cou­ple of years old­er than I am at the time of writ­ing. 

  2. An illus­tri­ous exam­ple of the time-hon­ored Por­tuguese tra­di­tion of hav­ing to take on respon­si­bil­i­ty for most roles in a giv­en pro­duc­tion, while most sure­ly only being paid for one of them. 

  3. The Nation­al Opera House bare­ly func­tioned at the time, being sole­ly open for busi­ness, well, for busi­ness: out for rent, host­ing but a hand­ful of pri­vate­ly-led ini­tia­tives through­out the decade. A princeza was one of them; two of the shows in this por­tuguese leg of the Bal­lets Russ­es’ tour were some of the few oth­ers. The shows were crit­i­cal­ly panned. Just a note while on the sub­ject of time-hon­ored tra­di­tions.