In 1894, the French author, Pierre Louÿs, printed a sequence of erotic poems titled, Les Chansons de Bilitis. Louÿs, who sought to “categorical pagan sensuality with stylistic perfection,” attributed the poems to Bilitis, an Historic Greek girl who was a up to date of Sappho. Within the introduction of the ebook, Louÿs claimed that he had translated the gathering following its discovery on the partitions of a tomb in Cypress.
In actual fact, Pierre Louÿs had authored the poems himself as a part of an elaborate fabrication. The work’s literary worth remained. In 1897, Claude Debussy set three of the poems as songs for feminine voice and piano. Later, in 1901, Debussy composed incidental music for a mimed recitation of the twelve poems.
The Trois Chansons de Bilitis current dreamy, illusory visions of antiquity. They inhabit an impressionistic harmonic world which incorporates the Lydian mode and whole-tone scale. The primary track, La Flûte de Pan (“Pan’s flute”) evokes a pastoral scene during which a younger man provides Bilitis an intimate lesson in taking part in the syrinx, or pan flute. (The syrinx was additionally a outstanding characteristic of Debussy’s Mallarmé-inspired tone poem, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, written a couple of years earlier in 1894). The piano’s accompanying strains evoke the mild strumming of a lyre. The second track, La Chevelure (“The Tresses of hair”) grows out of a mysterious, looking line within the piano. Serene and sensuous, it drifts into whole-tone concord. The ultimate track, Le Tombeau des naïades (“The Tomb of the naiads”) paints a harsh winter panorama of desolate, frost-coated woods. The frigid scene is in stark distinction with the opening track’s summer time heat. The textual content laments the dying of satyrs and nymphs, mythological creatures of the forest, and displays, nostalgically, on the irrevocable lack of younth and innocence.
This 2013 recording options the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter with pianist, Bengt Forsberg. Right here is the textual content and translation for the track cycle.
I. La flûte de Pan:
II. La chevelure:
III. Le tombeau des Naïades:
- Debussy: Trois chansons de Bilitis, L. 90, Anne Sofie von Otter, Bengt Forsberg Amazon
Featured Picture: “Les Chansons de Bilitis” (1894), Georges Barbier
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