Text by Alphonse de Lamartine, music by Florian Gougne.
Excerpt from Lamartine's “New Meditations”, this short text of ten alexandrins celebrates the evanescent fate of a butterfly. With a both spiritualistic and carnal context, the poet draws the life path of this insect familiar yet fascinating; from his symbolic birth to a daily reality that is always animated and until the point of a voluptuousness that is all heavenly, almost ecstatic. Created for the the composition competition of festival “Eufonia” 2019 in Bordeaux, this score was bound to respect certain constraints: 4 mixed voices without division, comfortable range, short duration (less than 3 minutes). The composer was free to set the text to music.
The poem’s architecture itself resembles the life of a butterfly: short, without pause. Articulated in two sentences (one of 7 alexandrins and the other of 3) the text proposes two aspirations, subtly intertwined. The first, willingly descriptive, of the "enchanted destiny" that is the one of the small insect. To be born and to die, to be drunk, to be swayed from flower to flower, to fly, to explore without deepening, to let oneself be carried by an azure sky, a perfume, by all that nature and life offers as opportune pleasures. Perhaps here we will find the illustration and the magnified definition of the verb flutter. The melodic and rhythmic independence of the voices as well as the mobile supports of the harmony are contrasted with the second part. Shorter, all in homorhythm, almost declaimed, it invites the listener to the heart of the message that the poem carries.
At the end, we do not know where he is coming from or where he is going to. It is the same with the butterfly, always in motion, unpredictable, and fascinating with fragility and all ephemeral beauty; the image of the "rose" in the first verse is well chosen by the poet. Once foiled some harmonic pitfalls, it is a completely accessible score, as well at the melodic level (pentatonism, modality) as rhythmic. You may be surprised by the moving and irregular metrics, but keep in mind that it is close to the prosody of Lamartine's poem. By declaiming it, you will hear the melody following the accents of the text. It will be up to the choir conductor to freely conduct this text and to take the versatile course to a delicate delight.
This work awarded the 1st prize of the jury, the audience prize and the SACEM prize. Congratulations, Florian !