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Gaspard de la Nuit (1908)

"Gaspard de la Nuit" was composed by Ravel in 1908. It was first performed in 1909. He based his compositions on three poems by French poet Aloysius Bertrand (1807-1841). It consists of three parts; "Ondine", "le Gibet" and "Scarbo" "Gaspard the la Nuit" is one of Ravel's most demanding works. Ravel admitted to the fact that he intended the third part, "Scarbo" to be even more difficult than Balakirev's "Islamey".

"...I believed I heard; a dim harmony charming my sleep. And close by me spread a similar murmur of uninterrupted songs from a sad and tender voice..." - Ch. Brugnot "Les Deux Genies".
"Listen! Listen! It is me, Ondine, spirit of the water, brushing with these drops of water the resonant diamond panes of your window lighted by the gloomy rays of the moon; and here in a silk dress, is the lady of the manor, gazing from her balcony at the beautiful starry night and the lovely sleeping lake."
"Each wave is a water sprite who swims in the current; each current is a path, winding toward my palace, and my palace is fluidly built, at the bottom of the lake, in the triangle formed by fire, earth, and air."
"Listen! Listen! My father is beating the croaking water with a green alder branch, and my sisters caress, with their arms of foam, the cool islands of grass, of water lilies, and gladiolas or tease the decrepit willow, who is fishing with a line of leaves."
Her song murmured, she begged me to receive her ring on my finger, to be her husband, and to visit her palace with her, to be the king of the lakes.
And when I answered that I loved a mortal woman, sullen and vexed, she cried a few tears, burst out laughing, and vanished in a sudden shower that streamed white down my blue windowpanes.

Le Gibet (The Gallows)

Ah! Could what I hear be the yelping of the cold night wind, or the hanged man giving forth a sigh on the gallows fork.
Could it be some cricket singing, crouched in the moss and the sterile ivy that the forest wears out of pity?
Could it be some fly on the hunt, blowing its horn around those ears deaf to the fanfare of tally-hos?
Could it be some beetle plucking, in its uneven flight a bloody hair from its bald skull?
Or could it be some spider embroidering a half yard of muslin as a tie for that strangled neck?
It is the bell tolling to the walls of a city under the horizon, and the carcass of a hanged man reddened by the setting sun.


Oh! How often I have heard and seen him, Scarbo, when at midnight the moon shines in the sky like a silver shield on a blue banner strewn with golden bees!
How often I have heard his laughter booming in the shadow of my alcove and the grating of his nails on the silk curtain of my bed!
How often I have seen him come down from the ceiling, pirouetting on one foot and rolling through the room like the spindle fallen from the distaff of a witch.
Did I then believe he vanished? The dwarf would grow bigger between the moon and me like the bell tower of a gothic cathedral, a little golden bell swinging on his pointed cap!
But soon his body would turn blue, diaphanous like the wax of a taper, his face would grow pale like the wax of a candle stub--and suddenly he would fade away


" Ecoute ! - Ecoute ! - C'est moi, c'est Ondine qui
frôle de ces gouttes d'eau les losanges sonores de ta
fenêtre illuminée par les mornes rayons de la lune ;
et voici, en robe de moire, la dame châtelaine qui
contemple à son balcon la belle nuit étoilée et le beau
lac endormi.

" Chaque flot est un ondin qui nage dans le courant,
chaque courant est un sentier qui serpente vers mon palais,
et mon palais est bâti fluide, au fond du lac, dans le
triangle du feu, de la terre et de l'air.

" Ecoute ! - Ecoute ! - Mon père bat l'eau coassante
d'une branche d'aulne verte, et mes soeurs caressent de
leurs bras d'écume les fraîches îles d'herbes, de nénu-
phars et de glaïeuls, ou se moquent du saule caduc et
barbu qui pêche à la ligne ! "


Sa chanson murmurée, elle me supplia de recevoir son
anneau à mon doigt pour être l'époux d'une Ondine, et
de visiter avec elle son palais pour être le roi des lacs.

Et comme je lui répondais que j'aimais une mortelle,
boudeuse et dépitée, elle pleura quelques larmes, poussa
un éclat de rire, et s'évanouit en giboulées qui ruisse-
lèrent blanches le long de mes vitraux bleus.

Complete recording by Ken Sasaki.

Ondine 6:41
Le Gibet 5:35
Scarbo 9:24


Ondine 6:34 Klyuev, I.
Ondine 6:38 Rosness, L.
Le Gibet 6:32 Rosness, L.
Jan 8, 2016
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