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RC 79 Recueillement (“Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille”)

text source

Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal. Nouvelle édition (Paris: Calman Lévy 1890), 239

first performance

1907-10-19 00:00:00.0 Haarlem, concertzaal de Kroon

recordings

  • Anniversary Edition 6 Et'cetera KTC 1435 CD6

publications

  • Complete Songs for Solo Voice and Piano Vol. 5 Donemus / Alphons Diepenbrock Fonds 27700305
  • Complete Songs for Solo Voice and Piano Vol. 7 Donemus / Alphons Diepenbrock Fonds 27700305
  • Diepenbrock Album B/M Vol. I
  • Diepenbrock Album T/S Vol. II
  • Recueillement (Sonnet de Ch. Baudelaire) pour Mezzo-Soprano et Piano Noske, A.A. 1465458

  • Recueillement (“Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille”)
  • Baudelaire, Charles
  • contralto or mezzo-soprano and piano // soprano and piano
  • 1907-07-03 00:00:00.0 - 1907-07-17 00:00:00.0 | revised 1910-01-01 00:00:00.0 - 1910-12-31 00:00:00.0
  • duration 5:50

After the successful setting of Baudelaire’s Les chats (The Cats, RC 68) in February 1906, Diepenbrock told Johanna Jongkindt he also intended to set Recueillement (Contemplation) and Les hiboux (The Owls) to music. (BD V:104) His plans for Les hiboux never materialised, as he later came to the conclusion: That poem about the owls cannot be turned into music. At least, I cannot imagine it being sung. (BD VII:237) However, in the summer of 1907 the other sonnet eventually inspired him to compose a song that can be considered one of the highlights of his oeuvre. …more >

Recueillement (incipit)


After the successful setting of Baudelaire’s Les chats (The Cats, RC 68) in February 1906, Diepenbrock told Johanna Jongkindt he also intended to set Recueillement (Contemplation) and Les hiboux (The Owls) to music. (BD V:104) His plans for Les hiboux never materialised, as he later came to the conclusion: That poem about the owls cannot be turned into music. At least, I cannot imagine it being sung. (BD VII:237) However, in the summer of 1907 the other sonnet eventually inspired him to compose a song that can be considered one of the highlights of his oeuvre.

It took Diepenbrock two weeks to compose Recueillement – the earliest manuscript is dated 3-17 July 1907 – with the voice of the Belgian alto Gabrielle Zimmer-Derscheid (1875-1965) in mind. In March he had stayed with Mr and Mrs Zimmer when he was in Brussels for a performance of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Right from the beginning it was Diepenbrock’s intention to orchestrate the song, as we can read in his letter to W.G. Hondius van den Broek of 8 August, the day he completed the score:

Recently I have set a beautiful poem by Baudelaire, Recueillement, to music that concludes with “Entends, ma chère, entends la douce nuit qui marche” (Listen, my dearest, listen to the soft night approaching), for Contra-alto and Orchestra. I will play it to you sometime. It also has a piano accompaniment. I think you’ll like it. (BD V:408)

Baudelaire frequently came up in the correspondence between Diepenbrock and Hondius van den Broek. Diepenbrock also shared his love for this poet, whom he classed as one of those geniuses such as Villiers de l’Isle Adam, Verlaine, Berlioz and Wagner, with Johanna Jongkindt. (BD VIII:182)

The poem is very melancholy. Its subject is “ma Douleur” (my Grief), the inner pain that is addressed as a beloved: “Sois sage ... et tiens-toi plus tranquille” (Be sensible ... and remain calm). For the evening is already falling and a gloomy atmosphere envelops the city, bringing peace to some and anxiety to others. Give me your hand, while the vulgar masses, servilely submitting themselves to the scourge of Pleasure, go to gather Remorse; come here, far away from them. The scene – as we find out in the tercets – is Paris at night, more specifically the Île de la Cité. The poet evokes the image of the sun setting over the River Seine, framed by the buttresses of the Notre Dame: See how bygone years in old gowns lean over the balconies of heaven; how Regret rises with a smile from the depths of the water; how the dying Sun falls asleep under an arch. And listen, my dearest, how – as a long, trailing shroud – the soft Night draws near from the East.

Noteworthy is the floating character at the beginning of the song, which is not only created by the motive with which Diepenbrock lets the piano tentatively find its way in the introduction, but also by the lingering avoidance of the tonic or its triad. That chord is only played after sixteen broad measures (Assai lento), when the voice has already arrived at the third line. Characteristic are the chords that fan out from low to high in mm. 2, 6 and 12, which reappear several more times.

In general the piano part is colourful, orchestral and varied. Sometimes the texture changes per line, like when in m. 14 a long spun out melody starts in the right hand over an accompaniment of broken chords, which is replaced three measures later, on the words “Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville” (A dark atmosphere shrouds the town), by a movement of quaver triplets in parallel sixths and thirds combined with a chromatic countermelody in crotchets in the left hand. However, almost the whole second strophe is consistent in character, with a snappy repeated motive in the middle register (to be played p) that depicts the curse of permanently pursuing Pleasure. This section is in the key of g minor and modulates to f minor for the text “Vois se pencher les défuntes années” (See the deceased years recline). Characteristic of the harmonic flexibility and richness is the way E major is reached before the text “Le soleil moribond” (The moribund sun).

Interpreters

Baritone Gerard Zalsman (1871-1949) immediately embraced Diepenbrock’s composition. Accompanied by his first wife Marie Landré, he premiered the piano version of Recueillement in the concert hall De Kroon in Haarlem on 19 October 1907 at a concert by the Zalsman-Quartet. The programme also featured Diepenbrock’s Rey van burchtsaeten (Choral Song of the Burghers, RC 28) and Den uil (The Owl, RC 56).

On 5 October 1910 the song was published by A.A. Noske in Middelburg together with Der Abend (The Evening, RC 90) and Puisque l’aube grandit (Since Dawn Awoke, RC 97). It was abridged by two measures (to avoid text repetition) and several small changes were made.1

Pauline de Haan-Manifarges (1872-1954) was an exceptional interpreter of Recueillement. After her performance with the pianist A.B.H. (Anton) Verhey (1871-1924) in the Recital Hall of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on 16 March 1912, Diepenbrock thanked her with the words:

Thus performed, the song must stir and affect everyone who does not have a heart of stone and understands the text [...]. Such a soulful surrender to the text and the music convinces and softens the heart of people who are not entirely reluctant. And that means most of them. (BD VII:340-341)

After this performance the critic L. van Gigch concluded about the composition:

Sonorous and deeply glowing, the sonnet by Baudelaire has received an equal musical expression. The prelude and postlude masterly depict the sultry, yet peaceful nocturnal atmosphere, and each detail, while sometimes even forgetting the broad outline, has an exceptional depth of thought. (BD VII:588-589)

Berthe Seroen (1882-1957) and Evert Cornelis (1884-1931) also added Recueillement to their repertory, performing the song at a charity concert for the Serbian Red Cross on 22 March 1916.

In January 1920 Diepenbrock made a transcription in f minor for the soprano Frieda Mooy, who – being thirty years younger than him – had imposed herself on him and for whose charm, joie de vivre and beauty he was briefly susceptible.

Ton Braas

1 See Critical Notes in Complete Songs Vol. 5, 27-29.

 



Recueillement

Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,
Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,
Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,
Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,
Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,
Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;
Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le Soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche,
Et comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,
Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.

 

(transl. Peter Low)

 


  • A-62(1) Recueillement (contralto)

    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6

    A-62(1) dated on the last page 3-17 Juli 1907 and with dedication on the title page A Madame Gabrielle Zimmer

    • 1907-07-03 00:00:00.0 – 1907-07-17 00:00:00.0
    • dedication: A Madame Gabrielle Zimmer
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: 6
  • A-81(1) Recueillement (contralto)

    semi-autograph A-81(1), copyist F. du Pré

    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown
  • A-92(1) Recueillement (contralto)

    semi-autograph A-92(1), copyist W.G. Hondius van den Broek

    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown
  • B-23(3) Recueillement (soprano)

    B-23(3) dated on the first and last page 1907

    • 1907-01-01 00:00:00.0 – 1907-12-31 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown
  • MN 554 Recueillement, Druckvorlage

    semi-autograph in MN 554 (NMI, archive A.A. Noske), Druckvorlage for mezzo-soprano (the originally written “contralto” has been altered by Diepenbrock)

    • location: Nederlands Muziek Instituut, Noske Archive
    • pages: unknown
  • SL-12 Recueillement (contralto)

    autograph SL-12 in the possession of G. Overloop-Zimmer (Brussels) with dedication on the title page A Madame Gabrielle Zimmer and dated on the last page Amsterdam 24 Juli 1907

    • 1907-07-24 00:00:00.0
    • dedication: A Madame Gabrielle Zimmer
    • location: Mrs. Overloop-Zimmer
    • pages: unknown

  • click to enlarge

    Anniversary Edition 6

    cd Et'cetera KTC 1435 CD6
    Alexander, Roberta ♦ Jansen, Rudolf ♦ Nes, Jard van ♦ Holl, Robert ♦ Prégardien, Christoph ♦ Pfeiler, Christa ♦ Doeselaar, Leo van ♦ McFadden, Claron ♦ Ameling, Elly ♦ Meer, Richte van der ♦ Baldwin, Dalton

    Tracks: 1 = RC 79; 2 = RC 68; 3 = RC 117; 4 = 97; 5 = RC 132; 6 = RC 104; 7 = RC 111; 8 = RC 43; 9 = RC 99; 10 = RC 138; 11 = RC 137; 12 = RC 4; 13 = RC 15; 14 = RC 14; 15 = RC 13; 16 = RC 51

  • Complete Songs for Solo Voice and Piano Vol. 5

    1996 Donemus / Alphons Diepenbrock Fonds Braas, Ton
  • Complete Songs for Solo Voice and Piano Vol. 7

    1995 Donemus / Alphons Diepenbrock Fonds Braas, Ton
  • Diepenbrock Album B/M Vol. I

    1952 Reeser, Eduard
  • Diepenbrock Album T/S Vol. II

    1960 Reeser, Eduard
  • Recueillement (Sonnet de Ch. Baudelaire) pour Mezzo-Soprano et Piano

    1910 Noske, A.A.

19 okt 1907: Eerste uitvoering van Recueillement door Gerard Zalsman en Marie Zalsman-Landré (piano) tijdens een concert van het Zalsman-Kwartet in de Concertzaal De Kroon te Haarlem. Het kwartet zingt voorts o.a. de Rey van burchtsaeten (RC 28) en Den uil (RC 56).

Maar sympathieker is ons nog Zalsman's pogen om den man, die ook op vocaal gebied wellicht reeds spoedig algemeen zal worden er­kend als den artistieken en tevens diepzinnigen Nederlandschen com­ponist bij uitnemendheid Alphons Diepenbrock, meer bekend te ma­ken. Voor Diepenbrock is de muziek de eenig denkbare vorm waarin menschen tot menschen kunnen spreken over wat hun heilig is; verzen als uit de Rey der Edelingen van Vondel, geven hem geen aanleiding tot eene muzikale paraphrase of toelichting noch tot eene fantasie, maar het heilige zelf dat Vondel bezielde toen hij den woordvorm schiep, naar diepte, kracht en nuance beperkt door het vermogen van menschelijke stem (maar hoe schoon toch), bezielt naar aanleiding van Vondel's verzen, Diepenbrock opnieuw en anders, muzikaal, dieper, krachtiger, fijner genuanceerd van vorm, wordt zijne compositie ge­schapen, evenals het vers, – dit als het ware in zich opnemend en het omsmeltend – eene openbaring van het onzichtbare eeuwige leven, dat onder en in het zichtbare als drijvende kracht leeft. — Sommige menschen kunnen zich de heiligheid der muziek in dezen zin niet denken, zonder tevens te denken aan zekere “gewijde” onderwerpen. Zij mogen zich eens herinneren, dat de heiligheid van Rembrandt's schilderijen ook niet afhankelijk is van het gewijde van zijn onderwerp, maar leeft in zijne weergave van het heilige licht, al schijnt dit licht op een gewoon stuk vleesch of op een gordijn. — Diepenbrock die geen monnik is, kent ook de heiligheid der zuivere onnoozelheid van ge­wone menschen en dieren, die van hunne schijnbare trivialiteit, ge­tuige zijne compositie van het Vlaamsch liedeken Den uil, met welks levendige guitige vertolking het kwartet echten bijval oogstte. Wan­neer zullen wij allen eens begrijpen, dat heiligheid niet noodzakelijk verbonden is aan een uitgestreken gezicht, dat er heilige humor en heilige vroolijkheid bestaat, die wel grenzen aan het onheilige, maar het daarom nog niet, neen juist daarom het nog niet zijn. — De compositie van Receuillement, het “Entends, ma chère, entends la douce nuit qui marche” van Beaudelaire, den vader der moderne Fransche dichters, snijdend van melancolie, deed ons weer een andere zijde van Diepenbrock's werk kennen. — Wij hopen dat Zalsman ons met Diepenbrock niet met rust laat; wat moest ons de borst zwellen te weten dat hij in ons midden leeft.

Bloemendaalsch Weekblad (Mr. P. Tideman), 20 oktober 1907

pdf All reviews for RC 79 Recueillement (“Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille”)