cent fois plus ombre
(a hundred times more a shadow)

Scoring

flute, flute 2/alto flute, flute 3/piccolo; 2 oboes, English horn, 2 bassoons, 3 horns and off-stage horn; 2 trumpets, trombone, cimbalon, hammered dulcimer, harp, electric piano,  onde martenot, vibraphone, marimba, harpsichord, percussion (orch. bells, claves, crotales, chimes of Luni, finger cymbals, bs. drum, glass wind chimes, shaker, 2 suspended cymbals, 2 gongs); off-stage women’s chorus (SSAA) and organ; celli and bass.

Details

12:00
1987

Lehigh Choral Arts
Steven Sametz, director

Commissioned for the centennial celebration of Packer Memorial Church, Lehigh University.

Program Notes

I first encountered Robert Desnos’  J’ai tant rêvé de toi (I have dreamt so very much of you)  while visiting the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, a memorial to the 200,000 people who were deported during WWII  from Vichy France to the Nazi concentration camps.  The memorial is on the site of a former morgue behind Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité in Paris.  Along the walls of the narrow and dimly lit corridor of the memorial, one reads fragments of two poems of the French Resistance poet Desnos.  Originally published in 1942 under the title, “The Heart that Hated War,” the lines are a haunting evocation of loss.

cent fois pus ombre was originally composed as a companion work on a concert with Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, which shares the an orchestration utilizing only lower strings. 

Text / translation

J’ai tant rêvé de toi, tant marché, parlé,
Couché avec ton fantôme
Qu’il ne me reste plus peut-être,
Et pourtant, qu’a être fantôme
Parmi les fantômes et plus ombre
Cent fois que l’ombre qui se promène
Et se promènera allègrement
Sur le cadran solaire de ta vie.

-Robert Desnos

Translation

I have dreamt so very much of you,
I have walked so much,
Loved your shadow so much,
That nothing more is left to me of you.
All that remains to me is to be the shadow among shadows
To be a hundred times more of a shadow than the shadow
To be the shadow that will come and come again into your sunny life.