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Witold Lutosławski

Publisher: Chester Music

Paroles tissées [Woven words] (1965)
Work Notes
Chester Music is the publisher of this work in all territories except Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, China, countries of the former Czechoslovakia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Romania, Hungary and the whole territory of the former USSR, where the copyright is held by Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM).
Text Writer
Jean-François Chabrun
Chester Music Ltd (Polish Works)
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Witold Lutosławski Paroles tissées [Woven words] (1965)

Scored for tenor and an ensemble of strings, harp, piano and percussion, this work sets the ‘Quatre Tapisseries pour la Châtelaine de Vergi’ by the French poet, Jean-François Chabrun. It was written at a request from Peter Pears who gave the first performance of it at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1965 with the Philharmonica of London directed by the composer.

The title Paroles Tissées aptly describes the four poems which are verbal tapestries with words and phrases recurring in slightly changed guises in each. The composer has created an integral whole out of the four separate songs which is designed to be performed without a break and in which the singer and instrumentalists are all equal participants. The first two poems are short and quiet; the third is much longer and quite agitated and the short movement with which the cycle ends is quiet and forlorn. Chabrun’s surrealist imagery is virtually untranslatable but Lutoslawski’s rich, varied and fascinating textures seem to match exactly the extraordinarily powerful changing emotions of the words.

As in the case with the majority of Lutoslawski’s mature works, the score contains certain sections where the performers play given material ‘ad libitum’. The duration of the piece is approximately 15 minutes.

First Tapestry (moderato)

Un chat qui s’émerveille
une ombre l’ensorcelle
blanche comme une oreille

Le cri du bateleurr et elui de la caille
celui de la perdrix celui du ramoneur
celui de l’arbre mort celui de bêtes prises

Une ombre qui sommeille
une herbe qui s’éveille
un pas qui m’émerveille

Second Tapestry Quieto (andante)

Quand le jour a rouvert les brances du jardin
un chat qui s’émerveille
le cri du bateleur et celui de la caille
une herbe qui s’éveille
celui de la perdrix celui de ramoneur
une ombre l’ensorcelle
celui de l’arbre mort celui des bêtes prises

Au dire des merveilles
‘ombre en deux s’est déchirée

Third Tapestry (allegro molto)

Mille chevaux hors d’haleine
mille chevaux noirs portent ma peine

j’entends leurs sabots sourds
frapper la nuit an ventre
s’ils n’arrivent s’ils n’arrivent
avant le jour ah le peine perdue
Le cri de la perdrix celui du ramoneur
au dire des merveilles une herbe qui s’éveille
celui de L’arbre mort celui des bêtes prises
Mille coqs hurlent ma peine

mille coqs blésses à mort
un à un à la lisière es faubourgs
pour battre le tambour de l’ombre
pour réveiller la mémoire des chemins
pour appeler une à une
s’ils vivent s’ils vivent
mille étoiles toutes mes peines.

Fourth Tapestry (moderato)

Dormez cette pâleur nous est venue de join
le cri du bateleur et celui de la caille
dormez cette blancheur est chauqe jour nouvelle
celui de la perdrix celui du ramoneur
ceux qui s’aiment heurex s’endorment aussi pâles
celui de l’arbre mort celui des bêtes prises

n’endormiront jamais cette chanson de peine
que d’autres ont repris d’autres la reprendront.

Jean-François Chabrun

Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    Suiss Romande Orchestra / London Sinfonietta / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Cleveland Orchestra
    P. Pears, tenor P. Jablonski, piano
    P. Kletzki / Witold Lutoslawski / V. Ashkenazy / C. von Dohnanyi
  • Ensemble
    Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
    A. Kruszewski, baritone P. Kusiewicz, tenor Glemser, piano
    Antoni Wit
  • Ensemble
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Lucy Crowe (soprano) Toby Spence (tenor) Christopher Purves (baritone)
    Edward Gardner
This setting of dreamily surrealist texts, inspired by the fabulous landscapes of medieval tapestries, was beautifully sung by Ian Bostridge.
Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph,18/08/2006
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