A comet on the sky of French music

Red glow. © Charles Thibo

If you are old enough, you may remember Laurel and Hardy, two slapstick comedians from the 1920s, whose short movies I saw in the 1970s on TV, all black and white, no spoken words, occasionally subtitled – just as funny and just as sad as Charlie Chaplin. I loved Laurel and Hardy when I was a child, and when I recently listened to the opening bars of Alexis de Castillon’s Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major (Op. 4) I had to think of the piano music that accompanied the short movies. It made me feel nostalgic for the simplicity of the jokes, the straightforwardness of the arrangement and the unobtrusive piano music that conferred a sense of tragedy, of comedy or simply heightened the tension.

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