Echoes of Hemingway: Arnaud Quercy’s Musical Journey Through ‘The Big Five’

Score and detailed analysis

Arnaud Quercy’s “The Big Five” offers a unique musical journey through the symbolism found in Ernest Hemingway’s stories, articulating profound human emotions and experiences through the lens of Africa’s most formidable animals.

The Rhinoceros (Blood): This movement, inspired by “Green Hills of Africa,” musically captures the thrill and moral ambiguity of the hunt. Quercy intertwines traditional African melodies with the narrative’s themes, inviting reflection on human interaction with nature.

The Lion (Cowardice): Reflecting on “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” the second movement explores the complex dynamics of fear, masculinity, and social expectations. It uses tension-filled harmonies to depict the emotional turmoil and ultimate breakdown of personal relationships.

The Buffalo (Courage): In a dramatic interpretation of a pivotal safari hunt, the third movement symbolizes a moment of courage and transformation. The musical progression mirrors the story’s climax, culminating in an ironic and tragic conclusion that resonates with Macomber’s fleeting moment of bravery.

The Elephant (The Unwanted): Drawing from “Hills Like White Elephants,” the fourth movement tackles the challenges of communication and the complexities surrounding personal decisions. Through lyrical dissonance, Quercy captures the emotional distance and unresolved conflict between the couple, highlighting the underlying symbolism of the unwanted.

The Leopard (Regrets): Concluding the suite, “The Leopard” delves into the introspective and poignant narrative of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” The music contrasts the aspirations represented by the leopard with the protagonist’s reality, marked by regret and unfulfilled potential, offering a somber reflection on life’s elusive dreams.

“The Big Five” is a testament to Quercy’s ability to meld literary depth with musical expression, crafting a suite that not only pays homage to Hemingway’s stories but also stands as a profound artistic statement on the human condition.

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