Mixed choir
Poems by Marc Blanchet, Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé.
Duration : 11’
Commissioned by Choir Accentus.
First performance on may 10th 2001 in Monaco
Chamber choir Accentus conducted by Laurence Equilbey.
Publisher: Editions Jobert

« C’est une femme… » (beginning) :

« La Béatrice » (extr) :

« Apparition » (beginning) :

I “C’est une femme”

II “La Béatrice”

III “Apparition”

The poetic visions of Marc Blanchet, Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé give a polymorphous image of woman in these three portrayals.

Enigmatic, fleeting and intangible for Blanchet whose poem is built upon on three successive outbursts.

Lustful, devilish and cruel for Baudelaire who here stamps on courtly love to give us a terrible image of the muse whilst mocking the poet’s vanity.

A soft and gentle vision for Mallarmé who, in this poem from the days of his youth, depicts   the emotions of growing love with hints of nostalgia.

The musical interpretation of these three portrayals challenges the A cappella choir to the full: diverse modes of delivery (whispering, talking, shouting), extreme splitting (up to 32 different parts), a solo voice opposing the choral ensemble (the scansion « Who laughed! « Qui riait! » – a pun on the word « Kyrie » –  with the desperate lament of the solitary poet – Dante or Baudelaire himself – recognising the queen of his heart in the arms of a pit of demons).


“Beatrice” (Charles Baudelaire)

In a burned-over land, where not a blade or leaf
Showed green, through a charred world, whetting my ancient grief
Slowly upon my heart, and making sad lament
To Nature, at broad noon, not knowing where I went,
I walked… and saw above me a big cloud — which at first
I took to be a storm — blacken, and swell and burst,
And pour upon my head instead of rain a rout
Of demons, dwarfed and cruel, which ringed me all about.
As passersby, no matter upon what errands bent,
Will always stop and stare with cold astonishment
At some poor man gone mad, then bait him wittily,
Just so they gaped and nudged, and jeered aloud at me.

— “Come! Have a look at this! What is it, should you say?
The shade of Hamlet — why, of course! — look at the way
He stands! — that undecided eye! — the wild hair, too!
Come here! Do look! Oh, wouldn’t it wring a tear from you!
This shabby bon-vivant, this pompous tramp, this ham­-
Actor out of a job, thinking that he can cram,
By ranting, stale gesticulations, crocodile-tears,
His tragic fate into the ears of crickets, into the ears
Of eagles! — yes, who knows? — along with brooks and flowers­
Forgetting we invented these tricks, even into ours!”

But for one thing — no mountain is taller than my pride;
No demon horde can scale me — I could have turned aside
My sovereign thought, and stood alone… had I not seen
Suddenly, amongst this loathsome troupe, her, my heart’s queen —
And the sun did not reel, it stood unmoved above! —
Her of the pure deep gaze, my life, my peerless love,
Mocking and pointing, laughing at my acute distress;
Or fondling some foul dwarf in an obscene caress.

“Apparition” (Stéphane Mallarmé)

The moon was getting sad. Weeping cherubs
were dreaming, bow in hand in the quiet vaporous flowers
Played from their dying viols,
white tears rolled on the sky-blue petals
That was the sacred day of our first kiss
And I became martyr to my own dreams
which fed on that perfume of sadness
which, even without regrets or mishaps, leaves
picking up a dream to the heart who picked it.
Here I was, wandering, with my eyes riveted on the ancient cobbles
When with sunshine in your hair, in the street,
and in the night, you appeared to me, laughing
And I thought I saw the fairy with a hat of light
That once visited my beautiful spoiled childhood’s slumbers
And from whose half closed hands
Kept snowing in white bunches of scented stars.

Stéphane Mallarmé