Francis Poulenc composed the cycle Fiançailles pour rire just after the beginning of the World War II, and he did so because of the war. That's how he explained it:
"Had it not been for the war I should doubtless never have written this cycle. I hasten to excuse myself for an assertion which at first glance may seem paradoxical. I composed Fiançailles pour rire so that I could more often turn my thoughts towards Louise de Vilmorin, imprisoned in her castle in Hungary for God knows how long. That was the only connection between my work and this horrible tornado. It is fortuitous, as can be seen."
His words speak of his close relationship with Louise de Vilmorin. The writer had married in 1938 Count Paul Pálffy ab Erdöd and at the start of the war, the couple was in their castle at Pudmerice, near Bratistlava. Vilmorin had published her first novel in 1934, at her thirty-two; Fiançailles pour rire, published in 1939, was her first volume of poetry, of which Poulenc chose six poems for his cycle (or collection, because the composer himself said that songs could be performed together or separately). Each of the songs is somehow related to love; the verses are sometimes full of symbolisms that become enigmatic; sometimes they are fun, and sometimes nostalgic, like Fleurs, the song that closes the cycle. The flowers the poem speaks of are flowers that grow on the beaches of Britain; They were pledges of love and now that love is just a memory, they burn in the fireplace.
Julie Fuchs and Daniel Heide will perform Fiançailles pour rire [Light-hearted betrothal] the 21 August in Vilabertran. On that day we commemorate the 30th edition of the Schubertíada and, above all, we pay homage to Dr. Jordi Roch, its founder. This is why the concerto has a different structure. Fuchs and Heide will perform first, then the Atenea Quartet will premiere a work by Antoni Ros Marbà dedicated to Jordi Roch, and finally Matthias Goerne and Alexander Schmalcz will perform Die schöne Müllerin. Listen to Fleurs performed by Elly Ameling and Dalton Baldwin and then, if you feel like, you can go over the songs of this concert we've heard so far.
If you are reading this article on the day it is published, Wednesday 10, the Schubertiad will be about to begin, the next day. The last two posts in this series will therefore be published during the festival, although they would have been written before, so don't be surprised if there are no “real-time” comments. I hope we'll see each other in Vilabertran and we'll be able to talk about the concerts without a screen that separate us!
Fleurs sorties des parenthèses d’un pas,
Qui t’apportait ces fleurs l’hiver
Saupoudrées du sable des mers?
Sable de tes baisers, fleurs des amours fanées
Les beaux yeux sont de cendre et dans la cheminée
Un cœur enrubanné de plaintes
Brûle avec ses images saintes.
(Please follow this link if you need an English translation.)