Five New Early Songs of Debussy: History, Style, Analysis, and

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Five New Early Songs of Debussy: History, Style, Analysis, and
AMS/SMT/SEM national meeting, New Orleans LA (2 November 2012)
Five New Early Songs of Debussy: History,
Style, Analysis, and Perfonnance
Ralph P. Locke (Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, organizer/chair)
2:00 "Four Newly Discovered Melodies (1882) by Claude Debussy"
Denis Herlin, Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris)
2:30 "Bowstrings of Hair, and Falling Sailors: Aspects of Debussy's Early Vocality"
Jonathan Dunsby, Professor of Music Theory, Eastman School of Music (Rochester)
3:00 Four New Songs (composed ca. 1882)
"L'Archet" (Charles Cros)
"Le Matelot qui tombe a l'eau" (Maurice Bouchor)
"Romance" (Maurice Bouchor)
"Les Elfes" (Leconte de Lisle)
Elizabeth Calleo (Paris), soprano; Russell Miller (Professor of Vocal Coaching and
Repertoire, Eastman School of Music), piano
3:30 "Trills, Tra-las, and Manolas: Debussy's 'Seguidille"'
Marie Rolf, Professor of Music Theory, Eastman School of Music (Rochester)
The Fifth New Song (ca. 1883, unpublished)
"Seguidille" (Theophile Gautier)
Elizabeth Calleo, soprano; Russell Miller, piano
4:15 Respondents:
David Grayson, Professor of Musicology, University of Minnesota
Marianne Wheeldon, Associate Professor of Theory, University of Texas (Austin)
4:35 Discussion
============--===================================
Texts on the following pages show in italics any lines omitted by Debussy. Translation credits:
l. L'Archet. Translated by Ralph P. Locke.
2. Le Matelot qui tombe l'eau. From Margaret G. Cobb, The Poetic Debussy: A Collection of His
Songs Texts and Selected Letters. Translations by Richard Miller. 2nd revised edition. University of
Rochester Press, 1994. Corrected by M yl(me Dubiau-Feuillerac to incorporate Debussy's changes.
3. Romance. See no. 2.
4. Les Elfes. From booklet to the Virgin CD Clair de lune (Natalie Dessay, soprano; Philippe
Cassard, piano). Translation by Elaine Guy and (for deleted sections) by Sylvia Rickard.
5. Seguidille. See no. 2.
a
L'ARCHET (Charles Cros)
THE BOW
Elle avait de beaux cheveux, blonds
Comme une moisson d'aoftt, si longs
Qu'ils lui tombaient jusqu'aux talons.
She had beautiful hair,
blond like ripe August grain,
so long that it fell to her heels.
Elle avait une voix etrange,
Musicale, de fee ou d'ange,
Des yeux verts sons leur noire frange.
She had a strange voicemusical, like that of a fairy or angel,
and green eyes under dark eyelashes.
*
*
Lui, ne craignait pas de rival,
Quand il traversait mont ou val,
En l'emportant sur son cheval.
He feared no rival,
as he crossed mountain and valley
on his horse, carrying her away.
Car, pour tous ceux de la contree,
A ltiere elle s 'eta it montree,
Jusqu'aujour ou ill'eut rencontree.
For, to all the men in the region,
she had shown herself haughtily,
until the day when he met her.
*
*
Mais !'amour Ia prit si fort au creur,
Que pour un sourire moqueur,
II lui vint un mal de langueur.
But love seized her so strongly at the heart
that, in response to a mocking smile,
she became sick with languor.
Et dans ses dernieres caresses :
« Fais un archet avec mes tresses,
Pour charmer tes autres maitresses. »
And, during her fmal caresses, [she said]:
"Make a bow from my tresses,
to charm your other mistresses."
Puis, dans un long baiser nerveux,
Elle mourut. II fit selon ses vreux,
II fit l'archet de ses cheveux.
Then, with a long trembling kiss,
she died. He did what she wished:
he made a bow from her hair.
*
*
Comme un aveugle qui marmonne,
Sur un violon de Cremone
Il jouait, demandant l'aumone.
Like a blind man muttering,
he played on a Cremona violin,
asking passersby for alms.
To us avaient d'enivrants frissons
A l'ecouter. Car dans ses sons
Vivaient la morte et ses chansons.
Everyone who heard him shivered with intoxication,
for in his sounds the dead woman and her songs lived
on.
*
Le roi, charme, fit sa fortune.
Lui, sut plaire a la reine brune
Et l'enlever au clair de lune.
Mais chaque fois qu 'il y touchait
Pour plaire ala reine, l'archet
Tristement le lui reprochait.
*
*
Charmed by this, the king made him wealthy.
He [the player] knew how to please the dark-haired
queen
and carried her away &y moonlight.
But each time he touched the bow
to please the queen,
it blamed him sadly.
..
To the sound of mournful words
They died while on a journey.
The dead woman took back what she had lent.
Au son du funebre langage,
Ils moururent a mi-voyage.
Et la morte reprit son gage.
She took back her hair
blond like an August harvest,
hair so long that it reached down to her heels.
Elle reprit ses cheveux, blonds
Co~me ~ne moisson d'aout, si longs
Qu ds lut tombaientjusqu'aux talons.
LE MATELOT QUI TOMBE
A L'EAU (Maurice Bouchor)
On entend un chant sur l'eau
Dans Ia brune ;
Ce doit etre un matelot
Qui veut se jeter a l'eau
Pour Ia lune.
La lune eclaire le flot
Qui sanglote,
Le matelot tombe a l'eau ...
On entend trainer sur l'eau
Quelques notes.
ROMANCE (Maurice Bouchor)
THE SEAMAN WHO FALLS INTO THE WATER
There is a sin~ing on the water through the mist; it
must be a sailor longing to throw himself into the
water for the moon.
The moon cleaves the sobbing waves the
.I
falls ·
h
,
sa1 or
mto t e water ... a few notes drift hack
the water.
across
ROMANCE
Non, les baisers d'amour n'eveillent point les morts!
Baise I' amour vivant de ta levre divine;
Et le dernier soupir que rendra ta poitrine
Ne sera point charge d'inutiles remords.
No, love's kisses do not wake the dead! Kiss a
living love with your divine lips; and the last sigh
from your bosom will never be heavy with futile
regrets.
Non, les baisers d'amour n'eveillent point les morts!
N'en crois pas la-dessus les ballades anciennes !
Chantez, chantez toujours, levres musiciennes,
La chanson des amours qui vivent sans remords.
No, love's kisses do not wake the dead. Don't believe
what the romantic ballads say about it! Sing, sing
always, musical lips, the song of loves that live without
regrets.
On ne fait point I' amour dans le lit froid des morts !
On ne se cherche pas des yeux dans Ia nuit noire.
N'en crois pas la-dessus quelque ancienne histoire ;
Sous terre on n'a pas plus d'amour que de remords.
There is no lovemaking in death's cold bed! One
does not seek out someone's ~yes in the black night.
Don't believe some old story when it comes to that;
beneath the earth there is no love, just as there is
no regret.
Viens, aime-moi d'amour, ne pensons pas aux morts!
Ne montre pas le ciel de ta belle main blanche.
Cueilles-en les beaux fruits de I' amour, sur Ia branche
Ou ne s'est pas glisse l'affreux ver du remords.
Come, make love to me, let us not think of the
dead! Don't point heavenward with your lovely
white hand. Gather the fine fruits of love on the
branch, where the fearful worm of remorse has not
yet crawled.
LES ELFES (Leconte de Lisle)
Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansent sur la plaine.
Du sentier des bois aux daims familier,
Sur un noir cheval, sort un chevalier.
Son eperon d'or brille en la nuit brune;
Et, quand il traverse un rayon de lune,
On voit resplendir, d'un reflet changeant,
Sur sa chevelure un casque d'argent.
Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansent sur la plaine.
Ils l'entourent d'un essaim leger
Qui dans l'air muet semble voltiger.
- Hardi chevalier, par la nuit sereine,
Ou vas-tu si tard ? dit la jeune Reine.
De mauvais esprits hantent les forets ;
Viens danser plutot sur les gazons frais. -
THE ELVES
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
Astride a black horse, a knight leaves
the forest path trodden by deer.
His golden spur gleams in the dark night
and, as he crosses moonlight clear,
his silver helmet glints in the light
that shimmers as it shines on his hair.
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
They surround him in a gentle swarm,
seeming to flutter in the silent air.
"Bold knight, on this night serene,
Whither so late?" asks their young Queen.
"Evil spirits haunt these forests;
Come dance instead on the fresh grass."
Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansent sur Ia plaine.
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
-Non! rna fiancee aux yeux clairs et doux
M'attend, et demain nous serons epoux.
Laissez-moi passer, Elfes des prairies,
Qui foulez en rond les mousses jleuries ;
Ne m'attardez pas loin demon amour,
Car voici deju les lueurs du jour.-
"No! My betrothed with her clear, sweet eyes
awaits me and tomorrow shall be my bride.
Let me pass, you elves of the prairies."
"You who rummage around the flowery masses;
Do not let me be late so far from my loved one
For already there are glimmerings of daylight."
_Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansen{sur1a pfmiie.
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
- Reste, chevalier. Jete donnerai
L'opale magique et l'anneau dore,
Et, ce qui vaut mieux que gloire et fortune,
Ma robe filee au clair de la lune.
-Non ! dit-il. - Va done!- Et de son doigt blanc
Elle touche au creur le guerrier tremblant.
"Stay, Knight. I shall give you
The magic opal and the golden ring,
And that which is worth more than glory and fortune,
My robe spun by moonlight."
"No!" says he. And with her white finger
She touches his trembling heart.
Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansent sur la plaine.
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
Et sous l'eperon lenoir cheval part.
II court, il bondit et va sans retard ;
Mais le chevalier frissonne et se penche ;
II voit sur Ia route une forme blanche
Qui marche sans bruit et lui tend les bras :
- Elfe, esprit, demon, ne m'arrete pas!-
At a touch of the spur, the black horse is gone.
It leaps and gallops, running like the wind;
but the knight shudders as he peers ahead;
there on the road he sees a white form
walking silently with outstretched arms:
"Elf, spirit, demon do not' seek to stop mel"
Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansent sur la plaine.
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
Ne m'arrete pas, fantome odieux!
Je vais epouser rna belle aux doux yeux.
- 6 mon cher epoux, la tombe eternelle
Sera notre lit de noce, dit-elle.
Je suis morte!- Et lui,la voyant ainsi,
D'angoisse et d'amour tombe mort aussi.
"Do not seek to stop me, odious phantom!
I go to wed my sweet-eyed love."
"Oh, dear husband, the eternal tomb
shall be our nuptial bed," said she.
for I am dead!" And seeing her thus,
he too fell down dead of grief and love.
Couronnes de thym et de marjolaine,
Les Elfes joyeux dansent sur la plaine.
With thyme and marjoram the elves are crowned
as gay in the meadow they dance around.
SEGUIDILLE (Theophile Gautier)
SEGUIDILLA
Un jupon serre sur les hanches,
Un peigne enorme a son chignon,
J ambe nerveuse et pied mignon,
Oeil de feu, teint pale et dents blanches ;
Skirt drawn tight across the hips, huge comb in her
chignon, nervous leg and charming foot, fiery eye,
pale skin, white teeth- Alza! Hey! Behold Manola
herself.
Alza! oUt!
Voila
La veritable manola.
Gestes hardis, libre parole,
Sel et piment a pleine main,
Oubli parfait du lendemain,
Amour fantasque et grace folie ;
Alza! ola!
Voila
La veritable manola.
Chanter, danser aux castagnettes,
Et, dans les courses de taureaux,
Juger les coups des toreros,
Tout en fumant des cigarettes ;
Alza! ola!
Voila
La veritable manola.
Bold gestures, bold words, handfuls of salt and
pimento, perfect forgetfulness of the morrow,
temperamental love and mad grace- Alza! Hey!
Behold Manola herself.
Singing, dancing to the sound of castanets and, at
the bullfights, analyzing the toreadors' feats while
smoking cigarettes- Alza! Hey! Behold Manola
herself.