Get Les Barricades Mysterieuses essential facts below. View Videos or join the Les Barricades Mysterieuses discussion. Add Les Barricades Mysterieuses to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
"The four parts create an ever-changing tapestry of melody and harmony, interacting and overlapping with different rhythmic schemes and melodies. The effect is shimmering, kaleidoscopic and seductive, a sonic trompe l'oeil that seem to have presaged images of fractal mathematics, centuries before they existed."
Les Barricades Mystérieuses was originally published with the spelling Les Baricades Mistérieuses ["single r" in the first word, and "i" rather than "y" in the second word]. All four possible spelling combinations have since been used with "double r" and a "y" being the most common. There has been much speculation on the meaning of the phrase "mysterious barricades" with no direct evidence available to back up any theory. Nevertheless, of those that link the title to features of the music itself, Evnine believes harpsichordist Luke Arnason's is the most plausible:
"The title Les Barricades Mystérieuses is probably meant to be evocative rather than a reference to a specific object, musical or otherwise. Scott Ross, in a master class filmed and distributed by Harmonia Mundi, likens the piece to a train. This clearly cannot have been the precise image Couperin was trying to convey, but it is easy to hear in Les Barricades the image of a heavy but fast-moving object that picks up momentum. In that sense, the mysterious barricades are perhaps those which cause the "train" to slow down and sometimes stop... This hypothesis seems to fit in with the pedagogical aims of Couperin's music, since the composer presents himself as something of a specialist in building sound through legato, style luthé playing...Moreover, it seems to form a set with the following piece, Les Bergeries. This latter piece, though more melodic than Les Barricades, set in a higher register and more bucolic in feeling, is also an exercise in using a repetitive motif (in this case a left hand ostinato evocative of the musette) to build sound without seeming mechanical or repetitive. Both Les Barricades Mystérieuses and Les Bergeries, then, are exercises in building (and relaxing) sound and momentum elegantly.
While the title reflects the musical structure, there may be more at play. The suggestion of barricades is "a double entendre referring simultaneously to feminine virginity and the suspensions [of] harmonic [progressions] of the music, [whose] lute figurations [from the style brisé] are imitated to produce an enigmatic stalemate", as Judith Robison Kipnis explained the work's title and its interpretation by her husband Igor Kipnis.
a "technical joke...the continuous suspensions in the lute style being a barricade to the basic harmony".
Homages and references in other works
The piece has been used as a source of inspiration by many others across different artistic fields including music, visual arts and literature. Some have simply used the title while others have created new works inspired by the original.
1971 Moog synthesizer rendition titled Variations on Couperin's Rondeau ("Les Barricades mystérieuses") on the album "Short Circuits" by Ruth White.
1984 written for, and incorporating texts by Christopher Hewitt, a piece for women's chorus, piccolo, bassoon, harpsichord and clapping titled "Les Barricades Mysteriéuses" by Juilliard composer Andrew Thomas.
1986 album titled Heavenly Bodies including the "Appia Suite", one movement of which is titled "Les Barricades mystérieuses", by British Jazz composer Barbara Thompson. Rerecorded in the same year to be the title track of the German film Zischke.
1987 piece for solo guitar by John Williams on his album "The Baroque Album"
1988 rock piece titled "Mysterious Barricades" on the album of the same name by former Police guitarist Andy Summers.
1989 work for flute and orchestra called "Les Barricades Mystérieuses" by Luca Francesconi.
1989 piece for three recorders called "Les Barricades" by Matthias Maute.
1994 quintet arrangement for clarinet, bass clarinet, viola, cello and double bass in the album "America: A prophecy" by Thomas Adès.
1994 piece for solo guitar titled "Mysterious Habitats" by Serbian guitarist Dusan Bogdanovic.
1995 sextet arrangement for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello titled "Les Barricades mystérieuses", the fourth of nine movements that make up the composition Récréations françaises by French composer Gérard Pesson.
1995 commissioned by the Villa-Lobos Orchestra for 12 cellos, Le Barricate Misteriose (Hommage à Couperin) composed by Italian composer Gabriella Zen.
Mid-90's solo percussion and electronic piece titled Mysterious Barricades on the album of the same name by Scott Smallwood.
1999 "Les Baricades Fantasques" is the second movement of a suite of three harpsichord pieces paying homage to Scarlatti, Couperin, and Bach, by American composer Robert T. Kelley.
2002 folk song "Mysterious Barricades" on the album Letter to the Editor by Max Ochs.
2003 piece for drums, voice and instruments titled "Through the Mysterious Barricade" by Philip Corner. This was revisited in 2011 with a new work titled ""Petite fantasie sur Les Barricades Mystérieuses (déjà une révélation) d'après François Couperin."
2007 "decomposition and performance" for piano titled "Les Barricades" Canadian performance artist Yawen Wang.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2012)
1922: The Worm Ourobouros. ER. Eddison. Early in this fantasy novel the protagonist and his wife, hearing their daughter play this piece, comment to each other that only they know the true meaning of the title.