In 1998 we delved into Mel Bonis's archives, which had been kept in a cellar by her family. We found a simple folder containing the scores for these three pieces. It was entitled "Three Pieces for Violin with piano (organ or harp) accompaniment."
The order was not stipulated, so it has been determined by the editor, who also decided to publish the third piece, the Largo, although the composer herself judged it harshly, writing "Bad" in the margin!
All these pieces were only in manuscript, with separate conductor and violin parts. The Andante Religioso, dated 1910, is dedicated to "Sophie Baudot, an affectionate souvenir." The Allegretto, also dated 1910, is dedicated to Raphael Kellert. This manuscript has annotations and shows signs of having been rehearsed. Between 1808 and 1913, the Russian Trio Kellert, in which Kellert was the violinist, performed Mel Bonis's music in many different Parisian concert venues.
The Largo, which is dedicated to Paulin Gaillard, also shows signs of the violin part having been rehearsed.
The Andante Religioso and the Largo are more ambitious works than the Allegretto. They develop a wonderful line for the violin, especially in the Largo, which surpasses the modest genre of drawing-room music. This explains why we decided to keep it with the other two pieces despite the reticence of the composer mentioned above. The Allegretto has a dual charm - that of her epoch and of the composer herself. This charm must be understood in its profound acceptance, that is to say, its capacity for capturing and concentrating the atmosphere of its epoch, and expressing it in a powerful evocation only possible through music.
Christine Géliot and Alexis Galpérine
1. Andante religioso - 2. Allegretto - 3. Largo
Mel Bonis is the pseudonym of Mélanie Bonis, the wife of Albert Domange. Although she came from an entirely non-musical family, she was a brilliant student at the Paris conservatoire under the aegis of César Franck, with notable fellow-students like Claude Debussy and Gabriel Pierré. Compelled by her father to abandon her studies [...]