Thursday, 3 March 2016

Poisoned perfumes : L'invitation au voyage Diepenbrock

Baudelaire's mysterious  L'invitation au voyage, not in its famous setting by Henri Duparc, but in a setting  by Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921). The song comes from the Diepenbrock Anniversary box set (more HERE), the most comprehensive collection of his non-symphonic music. Highly recommended. Riccardo Chailly conducted a lot of his music with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  I discovered Diepenbrock when his  Im grossen Schweigen was paired with Mahler 7th in Chailly's Mahler RCO series.  The photo above shows Diepenbrock (left) with Mahler and Willem Mengelberg on the Zuiderzee in 1906.

Diepenbrock's l'invitation au voyage (1913) is a very lovely work which captures the poisoned perfumes of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal . The piano part rolls gently, suggesting the gentle rocking motion of a small boat being rowed in placid waters.  Perhaps the "voyage" is on a boat; perhaps it's something else altogether more physical and intimate. Baudelaire quite explicitly describes a bedroom, with furniture "polished with the patina of  many years". Given the provocative first lines "Mon enfant, ma sœur,songe à la douceur d'aller là-bas vivre ensemble!" it could well be some forbidden love - Baudelaire could just as easily have written "cœur" for "sœur". "Mon enfant" and "Ma sœur" are terms which don't necessarily mean "my offspring" or "my sister",  but with Baudelaire, one doesn't rule anything out. The gentle, rolling figures in the piano part could even suggest the distorted sensuality of opium or the perfume of supposedly hypnotic flowers.  Diepenbrocok alludes to the "splendour orientale"in the poem with figures reminiscent of generically "Eastern" music. The voyage leads to a world where "tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,luxe, calme et volupté".  .

The singer on this recording is Aafje Heynis, well known for her Bach.  She died last December, aged 91.


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