Introduction by Haskell Small
According to his son Jean, Renoir chose to live like a cork floating on water, letting the current carry him along with only an occasional adjustment of the tiller. So, in writing my musical celebration of the Luncheon of the Boating Party, I created a "river theme" to bridge my sketches in sound of the participants in the afternoon's revels, serving a similar function as the promenades in Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
The story that propels Renoir's Feast is my own, based loosely on the characters in the painting. We open with the river theme as a group of men and women arrive by train at a riverside restaurant. After boatman Alphonse Fournaise jovially welcomes the group, we hear the earnest conversation of the two men at the rear of the painting. A Sicilienne and Pavane portray the top-hatted figure of Charles Ephrussi, a Russian art collector fascinated with the Renaissance . . . more