En Bateau, d'après Watteau (piano reduction) Anthony Gilbert

En Bateau, d'après Watteau (piano reduction) cover
Text/libretto by
Charles Baudelaire and Marcel Proust
8 mins 10 secs

Voice, accompanied Voice & Piano

1 Soprano, 1 Piano

Purchasing options

Score ISMN 57036-201-1 £14.00

soprano and piano

Programme note

Piano reduction of the original version for soprano, recorder, oboe, violin and cello.

This pair of songs was written as an 80th-birthday tribute to Sir John Manduell, CBE, formerly Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, and a great francophile. Watteau and Wagner haunted both of these poets;  indeed Proust's young alter ego, at his moment of epiphany in Combray, invokes Lohengrin and Baudelaire's musical revelation in the same sentence. The songs loosely connect the two poets by yet another Wagnerian-Watteauesque route, the sea, amd by some traces of Wagnerian harmony. First we have turbulence, not inappropriate to Baudelaire, then a corresponding ornate calm for Proust. Their first performance was given by Lesley-Jane Rogers, soprano and the Manchester Chamber Players at St. Martin's Church, Bowness-on-Windermere, on 13th August 2008.


La Musique:  Charles Baudelaire

 Music will often lift me like a sea!              

            Towards my pale star                        

Beneath a ceiling of mist or in a vast ether                 

            I put to sail;                                   

Breast to the fore and lungs filled                

            Like canvas sails,                                         

I climb high on the backs of tall waves

            Veiled by night.                                 

Within me I feel the vibrancy of passions      

            And sufferings of a ship;                                

Kind words, storms and their convulsions    

            Over the immense gulf                        

Lull me.  At other times, a flat calm                

             Mirrors my despair.     


Antoine Watteau:  Marcel Proust

 Twilight veiling trees and plains

With its blue cloak behind its indefinite


Dust of kisses around weary lips . . .

The vague becomes tactile, the close-

          at-hand, distant.

The masquerade, distant and melancholy

Makes the loving gesture more false,

          sad and charming.

Poet's caprice – or lover's caution,

Love needing to seem decorous and wise Lull me.                

– behold boats, picnics, silences and . . .        



Paraphrases © Anthony Gilbert