It is March 1919 and Darius Milhaud once again sets foot upon the streets of Paris, having just returned from Rio. It would have taken some time to become accustomed to it, for a frenzied rejuvenation was sweeping the city in the postwar spring sunshine. The stained plush of the fin-de-siècle salons was exchanged for a fresh art-deco interior; Impressionistic ‘haziness’ and late Romantic decadence made way for the no-nonsense aesthetic of the interwar period. Imagine dry catalogue descriptions of agricultural machinery serving as the text for a song. Why not!, thought Milhaud when he composed his Machines agricoles. And with equal nonchalance he also combined sprightly Brazilian dance rhythms with a hefty dose of polytonality. Listening to the music of Stravinsky’s ‘jazz Faust’ and Weill’s Frauentanz, it is evident that the 19th century had also come to an indisputable close elsewhere in Europe.
Saudades do Brazil (arr. Elmer Schönberger)
Suite from Histoire du soldat
Kwintet op. 39