Fantasia con tre canzoni popolare Napoletane

Composed in


Mezzo-soprano & 6 instrumentalists.

Mezzo-soprano, Flute (doubling Alto Flute & Piccolo), Violoncello, Harp & Piano 5 hands (3 performers)


First performance
May 2, 2007. Academia Belgica, Rome (I). Els MONDELAERS, mezzo-soprano. Students of the Conservatories of Gent, Antwerp & Brussels, cond. : Luc BREWAEYS.

Commissioned by
Jan Rispens

Dedicated to
Jan Rispens


Luc on “Fantasia con tre canzone popolare Napolitane” :

In February 2007 Jan Rispens, the director of the Gent Conservatory to whom I dedicated the score, asked me to “arrange” a few Napoletan folk songs for some students of different conservatories. They would give a concert on the occasion of the reopening of the Academia Belgica in Rome, and he wanted a piece to finish the concert with all the students involved playing together. This is why the score requires piano 5 hands, which has the advantage that the third performer can turn the pages for the colleagues. Jan Rispens chose Neapoletan songs because Queen Paola of Belgium was to be present and she was born in the Neapoletan area. The first performance took place on May 2, 2007 in Rome with mezzo Els Mondelaers as a soloist and myself conducting.

The original idea was to arrange the songs a little bit like Berio had done in his Folk Songs, but I soon decided to compose an introduction, and finally to make a composition with the songs as basic material. The first (sentimental) song “Core ‘ngrato” immediately triggered a fragment from Verdi’s Traviata so I composed something similar to go along with the original melody to which I didn’t change anything. I added, however, a belcanto-cadenza just before the end of it. After a short transition the second song “Fenesta che lucive” takes off in a strange way as the soloist sings the melody a quarter-tone down along with the alto flute and the cello, while the harp and piano remain of course tuned normally. The effect is amazing in this context. Later on everything returns more or less to normal. The harp and piano play a fast transition  to get into the last song “La festa di Piedigrotta” which I treated as a slow tarantella. The accompaniment is supposed to sound quite normally, but each part playing it is actually out of phase. Just before the end there is a reminiscence to the second transition, the last bit of the melody comes back very slowly before the instruments conclude in a brilliant way.

Luc Brewaeys