Per una flor de romaní


For those of us who live near the Mediterranean, rosemary is a part of our culture, landscape, and gastronomy. We coexist with this simple shrub that is accustomed to drought, wind, and salt. Even when spring arrives and flowers, they do so discreetly, unlike other plants that have their glory moment with exuberant flowering. The rosemary's flower is tiny, you need to get close to see its details; when viewed from a distance, it's elusive; its blueish or violet hue, depending on how light hits it, is dull, and it doesn't really stand out from the rest of the plant. Despite everything, or perhaps because it is ubiquitous and, at the same time, so difficult to grasp, a blooming rosemary bush is charming.

The flower of rosemary is also part of the Catalan poetic tradition, thanks to Josep Carner and his beautiful poem Canticel. And it is also a part of the Catalan musical tradition, thanks in particular to Eduard Toldrà and his best-known song.

But as is usually the case with great poems, it has attracted several composers beyond Toldrà. I have long wanted to dedicate a space to listening to various scores inspired by the same poem, and Canticel is a good choice to start. Among other things because tenor David Alegret and pianist Rubén Fernández Aguirre collected five of them on their Carneriana album (which is made up of fifty songs from poems by Carner, known as the prince of poets), and we can listen to all of them all with the same performers.

The five Canticel were composed over a period of twenty years. The first was that of Toldrà, published in 1923, only three years after the poem was published; you can find the article in which I told about it here. Then came the works of Antoni Massana (1926), Ricard Lamote de Grignon (1928), Joaquín Rodrigo (1935) and Narcís Bonet (1945). Since there is a lot of music to be heard, I better finish here… I hope you enjoy the rosemary flower!


Updated 8/6:Pianist Helena Ginès i Bataller indicates in a comment (thank you!) that the first Canticel is not by Toldrà, but by Xavier Gols (1902-1938) : "He composed it in September 1922, and he won the musical prize at the Floral Games in Girona that year."

Canticel - Antoni Massana
Canticel - Ricard Lamote de Grignon
Canticel - Joaquín Rodrigo
Canticel - Narcís Bonet

Per una vela en el mar blau
daria un ceptre;
per una vela en el mar blau
ceptre i palau.

Per l’ala lleu d’una virtut
mon goig daria
i el tros que em resta, mig romput,
de joventut.

Per una flor de romaní
l’amor daria;
per una flor de romaní
l’amor doní.

For a sail in the blue sea,
a scepter I would give;
for a sail in the blue sea,
scepter and palace.

For a light wing of virtue,
my joy I would give
and the shard still left, half-broken,
of my youth.

For a flower of rosemary,
love I would give,
for a flower of rosemary,
love I gave.

(translation by Salvador Pila)


Related articles

Comments powered by CComment

Liederabend website uses technical cookies, essential for the operation of the site, and analytics cookies that you can disable.