Tune of the Day: Petite fantaisie sur le Carnaval de Venise
“The Carnival of Venice” is the name of the folk tune popularly associated with the song that goes “My hat, it has three corners”. No one knows who wrote the melody, but plenty of composers have been inspired to write variations on this theme.
The present Petite fantaisie (French for “little fantasy”) was written by Jules Demersseman, a French flutist who wrote numerous works for his instrument. He was also one of the first French composers who wrote music for the newly-developed saxophone.
As in all fantaisies, in this piece the imagination of the composer takes precedence over conventional styles and forms. While the first two variations have a bright, lively character, the minor-mode third variation takes on a darker and bitterer tone. The fourth variation finally restores the original mood with a virtuosic display of double tonguing, that sounds best if played at a slightly faster tempo than the basic theme.