Paraphrase sur Eugène Onéguine for flute and piano


A work inspired by Pushkin's eponymous novel, Eugene Onegin is, along with the Queen of Spades, one of Tchaikovsky's most famous operas. Premiered at the Maly Theater by students from the Moscow Conservatory in 1879, Eugene Onegin was successfully revived at the Bolshoi. Immediately, several musicians seized on the work to take up its outlines and themes and dedicate to it the writing of paraphrases for various instruments. Among the most successful are the paraphrase for piano by Paul Pabst, professor at the Moscow Conservatory, as well as the paraphrase for violin and piano on the Air by Lensky from the 2nd act by Léopold Auer. The latter, moreover, is none other than the dedicatee of the Violin Concerto... by Tchaikovsky! Franz Listz, meanwhile considered the absolute master of opera paraphrase, is not to be outdone since he also signs a paraphrase on the Polonaise of the 3rd act.

In 1888, Tchaikovsky made a major European tour. Passing through Paris, he met the greatest French flautist of the time, Paul Taffanel, who five years later would be appointed professor at the Conservatoire de Paris. On the occasion of their meeting, Paul Taffanel pays homage to the composer by interpreting a transcription on the Aria of Lensky of the act I which he wrote himself. This is how a bond of friendship and mutual admiration is forged between the two men. From then on, the idea of ​​writing a flute concerto made its way into Tchaikovsky's mind. However, he disappeared five years later, a few days after the creation of his Pathetic Symphony, leaving the Concerto in a rough draft. From this missed opportunity, flautists still today feel the frustration of not having any work by the Russian composer in their repertoire. It is therefore not surprising that flautists, particularly at the instigation of Emmanuel Pahud, took over the paraphrase for violin on the Air de Lensky by Léopold Auer. 

Original paraphrase for flute, this fantasy sets itself apart from the existing one by revisiting several of the main themes of the opera: the Aria of Lensky from Act I, the Aria of the Letter, the Aria of Prince Gremin from Act III and the famous Polonaise. It is also embellished with more personal elements as required by the exercise, such as transitions and cadences, capable of highlighting the instrumental virtuosity of the flute.

Paris, June 10, 2022

Laëtitia Brault and Jean-Christophe Maltot

Composers : Jean-Christophe Maltot / Piotr Tchaikovsky

Duration : 11'