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Nigel Keay - Le loup et l'agneau (2017)
On the fable by Jean de La Fontaine

Upcoming performance;

Score - Le loup et l'agneau, 9 pages, 172Kb

Nigel Keay’s Le Loup et l’Agneau was composed at the beginning of 2017, for the pianist Jérémie Honnoré and the narrator François Castang, as a musical illustration of La Fontaine’s fable of the same name, where, La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure. The fable is read by the narrator throughout the course of the piece.

The work begins with a moderately paced Andante as an introduction. The ambiance is tranquil to begin with. Certain musical elements represent aspects of the fable; the arrival of the wolf is expressed through a dissonant three-note major/minor chord, employed after announcing his presence halfway through the introduction, although even the very first notes sounded on the piano, a single note melody, outline this particular chord implying the creature’s omnipresence.

The music shifts gear by picking up the tempo at the beginning of a second part. The mood is rather upbeat but without being urgent, and expressed and notated as an Allegro Moderato.  

After several bars the music arrives at some sustained chords superimposed with the narration on the subject of the lamb's reasoning. An interlude on the toy piano is an echo of the lamb defending his position. A few menacing words from the wolf interrupt the toy piano interlude, but it continues with another statement from the lamb, its last word of defence at the end of the interlude.

In stark contrast to the higher-pitched tones of the toy piano, the piano returns with slow ominously dark sounding chords announcing the vengeful intentions of the wolf. At this moment the pulse of the music is slow, and marked Grave.  

Performance History;

Sunday 10th December 2017, 5.00pm. Le Loup et l'Agneau for narrator and piano at Église Notre-Dame-d'Espérance de Paris, 47 Rue de la Roquette, 75011 Paris. Valérie Loriot (narrator) and Jennifer Lee (piano). Poster with details of concert (PDF).

Le loup et l'agneau was premiered at the Musique à la Ferme Festival, Chèvrerie Honnoré Le Devenset, Lançon-Provence (13), France, on Sunday 23 July 2017, 5.30pm.


Pascal MARTINES "Le petit chaperon rouge* – text by Charles Perrault – festival commission 2017
Nigel KEAY "Le loup et l’agneau* – text by Jean de La Fontaine – festival commission 2017
Jérémie HONNORE, piano – François CASTANG, narrator

Alan RIDOUT Ferdinand le petit taureau – text by Munro Leaf
Amanda FAVIER, violin – François CASTANG, narrator

Benoît MENUT Un Loup affamé pour récitant et piano* – on a Russian tale– festival commission 2017
Jérémie HONNORE, piano – François CASTANG, narrator

« Loup es-tu là » (Are you there, Wolf?) is a fully artistic and creative musical and literary idea comprising three compositions for piano and narrator based on emblimatic texts around the theme of the wolf. The programming, conceived for the festival, will result not only in concerts, but also an exhibition and an outreach action plan suitable for different publics. The interpreters, François Castang, narrator and Jérémie Honnoré, pianist have deliberately chosen three composers that have evolved in totally different worlds, which permits a younger audience to discover the colours, sonorities, and the atmospheres that enable them to be intensely transported by the chosen texts.