Program Notes


Paul Eluard

Elle est debout sur mes paupières                She is standing on my eyelids

Et ses cheveux sont dans les miens,             And her hair is in my hair,

Elle a la forme de mes mains,                      Her shape is the shape of my hands,

Elle a la couleur de mes yeux,                      Her color is the color of my eyes,

Elle s'engloutit dans mon ombre                   She disappears into my shadow

Comme une pierre sur le ciel.                        Like a stone on the sky.

Elle a toujours les yeux ouverts                     Her eyes are always open

Et ne me laisse pas dormir.                            and she does not let me sleep.
Ses rêves en pleine lumière                            Her dreams, in the full light of day

Font s'évaporer les soleils,                             Make the sun evaporate

Me font rire, pleurer et rire,                           Make me laugh, cry and laugh,

Parler sans avoir rien à dire.                           Speak without anything to say.

(Mourir de ne pas mourir, 1924)                     (Dying of not dying, 1924)

Reading this poem, it strikes me that L’amoureuse and the poet are so intertwined that she becomes almost his counterpart.  This reflecting relationship gives rise to the formal articulation of the music—a mirror-like structure.  The music serves to reveal the meaning of the poem by hints, by suggestions, with certain aspects of tonal painting: gestures related to the syntax of the poetic language, and interplay between the instrumental roles.

The soprano sheds light on the text, bringing the symbols into focus.  She therefore carries the same weight as the instruments.  The two instruments form an entity, imitating, chasing, responding, crossing one another.  Although originally contrasting in sonority, they are brought closer by more unconventional ways of playing, namely the sharp pizzicati of the violin, corresponding to the percussive attacks of the vibraphone/marimba and the bowed, pure tones of the vibraphone corresponding to that of the violin.

The title of the collection “Dying of not Dying” is interpreted by the fading ending and continuation of long ‘unforeseeable’ silences.

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