Montsegur, the Cathar Tragedy by the Ensemble Instrumental de l’Ariège
Picc., 2 Fl., 2 Ob., Eng.Hn.,
2 Bsns, Cbsn, Eb Cl.,
Bb Cl. I-II-III, Bass Cl.,
2 A. Sax., T. Sax., Bar. Sax.,
4 Hns, 4 Tpts, 4 Trbs, 2 Euph.,
2 Tubas, Cb., Hp., 5 Perc.
Level: Grade 5
Symphonic poems (tone poems) are narrative or descriptive musical works usually tailored to a poetic or other literary story line. Following the example of master composers like Berlioz, Liszt and Debussy, Maxime Aulio continues the genre with Montsegur, a sound poem based on the dramatic story of the fortress of Montsegur (Ariège, France), the ultimate stronghold of Cathar resistance. Just like an impressionist painter, he uses many tone and sound colours, always in perfect harmony with the evocative demands of the motifs to describe.
In the opening bars, you can almost feel the wind blowing. Whilst the splendor of nature unfolds before you, a sudden volley of crossbow bolts whistles through the air and falls like splintered iron rain. A hail of stone missiles crushes against the fortress walls. The siege of Montsegur Castle has definitely begun… The trombone emerges from this dark and intense musical climate as a truly tragic figure often given a symbolic meaning. It develops cyclic themes that reappear throughout the work: the Castle’s theme song, the Prayer of the Perfecti, the Stake Song. In March 1244, 207 Cathars were burned alive at the stake. Almost eight centuries later the mystery of the Cathar legend continues to fuel the wildest rumours…
The work also exists as a transcription for Symphonic Orchestra; it has been premiered by Michel Becquet, trombone, accompanied by the Orchestra of Limoges Conservatory of Music, conducted by Alain Voirpy, December 15th 2004, Limoges Theater.
Montsegur, the Cathar Tragedy, Symphonic Arrangement
by the Orchestre Sortilège, conductor: Louis Théveniau
Soloist: Ingrid Pico-Heide (trombone)