Category / Instrument
Mezzo-soprano, clarinet, violin, viola and cello
Paris, Festival Présences, Maison de Radio France, Studio 104
Ensemble Accroche Note

La Vallée Close, sur des sonnets de Pétrarque


The starting point: a type of highly personal spatiotemporal triangulation: Petrarch, Liszt, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.
Let me explain: three of the pieces from Liszt's Années de pèlerinage were inspired by three sonnets by Petrarch - three marvellous pieces, among my favourites from this suite. Petrarch lived for many years in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, tormented by his impossible love for Laure, who was the inspiration for his monumental Canzoniere, a collection of 366 poems, including those selected by Liszt.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse lies about twenty minutes by car from my current residence. A spectacular resurgence, source of the Sorgue (René Char, Boulez...) is found there at the bottom of a valley closed-in by mountains: the enclosed valley, vallis clausa in Latin, vau-cluso in Provençal (Fontaine being understood in the etymological sense of spring, fons in Latin).
Petrarch and Liszt, in their respective domains and epochs, were great innovators. Petrarch's poetry astounds by its romanticism and the expression, sometimes paroxysmal, of feelings. Liszt's piano astounds by its audacious timbres and harmonies. The turbulence of the Sorgue, at its resurgence, astounds in a provincial landscape given to greater calm and less humidity...
The piece's texts were thus taken from the three sonnets selected by Liszt: numbers 47 (Benedetto sia 'l giorno...), 104 (Pace non trovo...) and 123 (I' vidi in terra...). But, the texts are intermingled to a certain extent, and several verses have not been used (see texts in the annex). The poems are in Old Tuscan, which differs slightly from modern Italian. They are written in hendecasyllabic verses, which stresses the tonic accents of the Italian (or Tuscan) language. This has several consequences on the prosody, and thus the rhythm (for example, if a word ending with a vowel - as is generally the case in Italian, except where there is an elision - is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, the two syllables are combined and count as a single foot). I strived, without systemization, to take these peculiarities into account for the vocal writing.
There is no precise musical reference to Liszt's pieces, aside from the rhythmic introduction of the strings in the sections based on "Pace non trovo" that could bring to mind the introductory measures of "Sonnet 104".

Tristan Murail