The title of Les Éolides (The Aeolids) refers to the virgin daughters of Aeolus, the Greek god of the winds. Franck's symphonic poem was initially inspired by some lines from a poem (by Leconte de Lisle) which described floating breezes "whose capricious kisses caress the hills and the plains." Further inspiration came in the summer of 1875 when the composer travelled through Languedoc and experienced the full force of the mistral. Most of the work was sketched in the south of France, and the completed work was performed the following year in Paris.
In accordance with its poetic origins, the work is a lightly scored scherzo for small orchestra. The occasional bouts of mistral-like violence are justified by Franck's explanation that 'the Aeolids sometimes get out of temper!' A succession of themes ride by on the breezes, often treated canonically and , towards the end of the piece, appearing together in counterpoint with each other.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
One of the most exciting and versatile conductors of our time and a key figure in the early music revival, Sir John Eliot Gardiner has consistently gone against the prevailing orthodoxy through his particular combination of scholarship and inspired musicianship.
Founder and Artistic Director of the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Sir John Eliot Gardiner's performances in concert and on record are unmistakable, both for their zest and technical mastery and the highly personal readings of music from Monteverdi to Verdi and beyond.
In the autumn of 2003, he conducted a rapturously-received new production of Berlioz’ Les Troyens, with the Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique, at the Théatre du Châtelet in Paris, for which he was named 'personalité musicale de l'année' by the French Journalists' Union. The production of Les Troyens was also awarded the Grand Prix by the same organisation.
To celebrate the Choir’s 40th anniversary, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir embarked on a musical pilgrimage, this time following the oldest and most famous of pilgrimage routes, el Camino de Santiago, performing the very best a cappella music by Spanish and other European composers of the 16th & 17th centuries.
Alongside the activities with his own ensembles, Sir John Eliot Gardiner appears regularly as guest conductor all over the world. He has made over 250 recordings, many of which have won international awards. Future plans with his ensembles include performances of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion in the spring of 2005, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Mendelssohn in the autumn and a selection of JS Bach cantatas in December.