As part of Abingdon Arts Festival 2010, ABCD Film Society presents:
PIANO DUETS & FILMS FROM FRANCE
Saturday 27th March – St Nicolas’ Church, Abingdon, at 7.30 pm.,
Films: Two classic short films by the legendary Jean Vigo:
- A Propos de Nice (1930, Cert U, 25 mins)
- Zéro de Conduite (1933, Cert PG, 41 mins)
Piano Duets: performed by Wendy Hiscocks & Antony Gray:
- Gabriel Fauré – Dolly op. 54. Berceuse; Messieu Aoul; Le jardin de Dolly;
Ketty-Valse; Tendresse; Le pas espagnol
- Maurice Ravel – Ma Mère l’Oye. Pavane pour la belle au bois dormant;
Petit Poucet; Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes;
Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête; Le Jardin féerique
- Camille Saint-Saëns
Danse Macabre (arr. Wendy Hiscocks)
Tickets: £10.50 (£8.50 concessions) from Mostly Books, Stert St (01235 525880), Abingdon Information Centre (522711) or phone: 522163
ABINGDON ARTS FESTIVAL 2010
ABCD FILM SOCIETY PRESENTS
PIANO DUETS AND FILMS FROM FRANCE
Saturday, 27th March 2010 Saint Nicolas’ Church, Abingdon
The films: two classic short films by Jean Vigo:
A Propos de Nice (1930, Cert U, 25 mins) & Zéro de Conduite (1933, Cert PG, 41 mins)
A Propos de Nice accompanied on piano by Wendy Hiscocks
Jean Vigo is credited with only four films, made between 1930 and 1934, the year in which he died at the age of 29. Despite his small output, his work has had an abiding influence on French and European film culture, with two prizes named after him, one in France and one in Spain. The list of winners in France is most impressive (read the list: google “Prix Jean Vigo”); while the Spanish award is for documentaries with a “documented point of view”.
Vigo’s point of view in A Propos de Nice is of course what underlies our first film this evening. Consisting of rapid sequences of images, both of the pleasures of the rich visiting the resort and of the lives of the poor, it was controversial when made, both for its implicit ideas and for the montage method by which they are conveyed. The photographer Boris Kaufman went on to win an Oscar in 1954 for his work on On the Waterfront.
Vigo was a significant influence on Truffaut and on the British “Free Cinema” movement of the 1950s, whose key members included Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson. If you can remember Anderson’s If (UK, 1968), you may be struck by the stylistic and narrative similarities of our second film this evening, Zéro de Conduite (Nought for Conduct). (Anderson said his film was an homage to Vigo). It is set in a boys’ boarding school in which first pranks, and then rebellion, are the order of the day,. “An epic, free-for-all pillow fight in the dormitory suddenly turns into a mock religious procession, the picture going into slow motion, the soundtrack playing Maurice Jaubert’s memorable score backwards, a blizzard of feathers from the pillows floating in the background. With scenes such as this, it is not surprising that Zéro de Conduite was greeted by many with outrage. Jean Vigo’s first masterpiece was banned in France until 1945″ – Maximilian Le Cain (sensesofcinema.com).
Direction & script – Jean Vigo (both films)
Photography – Boris Kaufman (both films)
Art Direction – Henri Storck (uncredited) (Zéro de Conduite)
Music – Maurice Jaubert (Zéro de Conduite)
Leading roles in Zéro de Conduite
Surveillant Huguet – Jean Dasté
Surveillant Pète-Sec – Robert le Flon
Surveillant-Général Bec-de-Gaz – Du Verron
Principal du Collège – Delphin
Professeur – Léon Larive
Mère Haricot – Madame Emile
Préfet – Louis de Gonzague
Pompier – Rapha l Diligent
The piano duets: performed by Wendy Hiscocks & Antony Gray
Gabriel Fauré – Dolly op. 54. Berceuse; Messieu Aoul; Le jardin de Dolly; Ketty-Valse; Tendresse; Le pas espagnol
Maurice Ravel – Ma Mère l’Oye. Pavane pour la belle au bois dormant ; Petit Poucet; Laideronnette, Impératrice des pagodes ; Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête; Le Jardin féerique
Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre (arr. Wendy Hiscocks)
Fauré (1845 – 1924) composed the Dolly suite, a collection of piano duets reflecting on childhood experience, between 1894 and 1896.
Ravel (1875 – 1937) wrote his Mother Goose Suite in 1910 as “five children’s pieces”, with quotations from
Perrault’s stories inscribed on the score.
Saint-Saëns’ (1835 – 1921) Danse Macabre, originally composed for piano and voice and based on a French Halloween superstition, was first performed in 1872.
Composer-pianist Wendy Hiscocks was born in Wollongong near Sydney and began playing the piano at an early age. In her teens she started composing, and went on to study composition with Peter Sculthorpe at the University of Sydney. Since moving to London in 1988 she has received commissions from distinguished soloists, ensembles and choirs from around the world. Her compositions include a collection of piano works, Scenes from an Australian Childhood and the choral work, Grace. As pianist she has appeared internationally at venues ranging from London’s Purcell Room to festivals on several continents. She performs chamber music and piano duos and duets, and accompanies singers in a large range of repertoire including her own compositions. Her piano duet arrangement of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre was published in 2007. She is also preparing a biography of the Australian composer Arthur Benjamin, about whose film music she recently spoke to ABCD members.
Antony Gray was born and educated in Victoria, Australia. He graduated from the Victorian College of Arts where he studied with Roy Shepherd and Stephen McIntyre, winning several awards and prizes, including the Allans Keyboard Award two years running. In 1982 he received a scholarship from the Astra foundation to continue his studies in London with Joyce Rathbone and Geoffrey Parsons. From his time at College he has been a champion of many living composers, and his work with Australian composers Malcolm Williamson and John Carmichael has been particularly productive. His many discs of solo piano music include the complete piano music of Malcolm Williamson, which has been included in a recent survey of 1001 recordings to hear before you die. He has recently started a major project to record the complete solo piano music of Saint-Saens, including a large body of unpublished and previously unrecorded material.
A PROPOS DE NICE
with piano accompaniment by Wendy Hiscocks
“Full of life!”
“Plus ça change, plus c’est le même [chose]. Brilliant piano accompaniment.”
“Good and atmospheric”
“With a concoction of Hiscock’s music and the striking cinematography, this film was an excellent slice of French culture”
ZERO DE CONDUITE
“A for the music!”
“More fun than Etre et Avoir. Gloriously anarchic!”
“Enjoyed the whole evening – very informative Programme Note”
“Weird! I couldn’t begin to get engaged and simply didn’t find it entertaining.”
“Despite having some [good] moments, the clumsy sound design in this dated film didn’t do it much justice. The piano duets were interesting, with an outstanding recital of Danse Macabre.”
“A lovely evening spoilt by the [second film – zero for Zero!”
“Thank heaven for the pianist and the duets – superb! Such a shame – classic [films]? Harold [Lloyd] in 2009 was brilliant.”