soprano solo et ensemble (flûte (piccolo), clarinette (clarinette basse), piano, percussions, violon, violoncelle)

Prix Québec-Flandre 2003

Tsjizj est un cycle basé sur cinq poèmes de l’écrivain russe Daniil Charms (1905-1942), qui a exploré l’absurdité de la condition humaine. Charms manie la «logique illogique» et le sens du paradoxe d’une façon semblable à ce que l’on voit souvent dans la bande dessinée: par exemple, une personne peut être aplatie par un rouleau compresseur, ce qui n’empêche pas qu’on la revoit, le moment d’après, dégustant une bière à la terrasse d’un café.

Chacun des cinq textes de Tsjizj décrit de façon brève, précise et laconique cinq situations absurdes, dans lesquelles la frontière entre le normal et l’anormal disparaît, ce qui efface également toute signification logique. L’ensemble de l’œuvre repose sur une série de notes descendantes qui n’est exposée de façon explicite que dans la dernière partie, par une ligne de basse en ostinato jouée au piano. À la toute fin de l’œuvre, le piano atteint d’ailleurs son registre le plus grave. Dans le même ordre d’idées, à la fin du cycle, la compositrice intègre une sonorité incarnant la désolation, grâce à l’utilisation d’un gong «préparé». Ce ne sont là que deux des exemples qui illustrent la manière dont Petra Vermote transpose musicalement l’esprit morbide des poèmes de Charms.

Tsjizj (le nom en russe d’une espèce d’oiseau et celui d’une revue dans lequel Charms publia des poèmes pour enfants) est, avec Diferencias (2001), de l’opinion même de la compositrice, une de ses œuvres les plus importantes.

La traduction anglaise des poèmes chantés en russe est fournie par la compositrice.

1.The bathhouse (Banja)

The bathhouse is a disgusting place
In the bathhouse people walk around nude.
And to be nude is beyond people’s capacity.
In the bathhouse, there is no time to think about that,
there you have to rub your belly with a sponge,
wash your armpits.
Naked heels all over the place,
and wet hair.
It smells of urine in the bathhouse.
The branches of birch flog the skin of sponge.
A tray with soapsuds —
object of general envy.
The naked people kick each other
try to hit their neighbour on the chin with their heels.
In the bathhouse, people are shameless,
nobody tries to be beautiful.
You can see almost everything here,
and potbellies,
and bow-legs,
and people walk with a crooked back,
because they consider that more decent.
It is not without reason that in former times
the bathhouse used to be considered as the temple of the Evil.
I don’t like those public places,
where men and women are separated from each other.
Even the tram is nicer than the bathhouse.

2. The fox and the cock (Liesa ie Pietoech)

Once, a fox had caught a cock,
She locked him up in a pen.
“I fat you up
And eat till I am fit to burst.
Ha-ha,
A tasty chunk!”

The fox went away,
But she forgot
The lock, that closed with a stick.
The cock
Took to his heels
And hided himself
Behind
The pen.
When she didn’t see the cock,
The fox immediately entered the pen.
The cock shouted:
“Ha-ha-ha, You’re caught!”
And closed the door with the stick.

3. Neva (At Nievi)

Mist rises above the Neva
There arises a bla-bla-bla.

Flying along the neva goes a flight of flies
And spreads in the city a gloomy rumour.

4. Elisabeth (Jeliezavjeta)

Elisabeth played with fire
Elisabeth played with fire
The fire ran down her spin
The fire ran down her spin
Pjotr Palitsj looked around in ecstasy
Pjotr Palitsj looked around in ecstasy
And breathed heavily
And breathed heavily
And with his hand, he made a grab for his heart

5. All people love money (Vsje Ijudie ljubjat djenkie)

All people love money: they caress it, kiss it, they hold it
close to their hearts, they wrap lovely clothes around it and pamper it,
like a doll. And some people let frame a note and hang it
on the wall and worship it like an icon.

Some give their money to eat: they open their little mouths
and feed it the sweetest bites from their own meals.

When it is very warm, they bring their money to a cool cellar, and in winter, when there’s a sharp frost, they throw their money in the stove, in the fire.

Some people talk with their money, or read interesting books
to it, or sing nice songs for their money.

I spend no particular attention to my money, I just
carry it in a purse or wallet, and spend it accordingly to my needs. Sjiebjeja!

Exécution

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