soprano and small ensemble

Undoubtedly the most striking of all Vivier’s works, Lonely Child was described by the composer as, “a long song about loneliness.” Solitude and the despair it engenders may be very deeply felt over the course of the five songs that make up the work. Each is built up from short sentences that speak of ethereal creatures and dreams, magicians and fairy tales, and long snippets of texts in an invented language.

A number of explanations have been advanced for Vivier’s invented language—it may represent the language of his unknown biological parents, the expression of something suppressed, that craves to be spoken but for which words cannot be found, etc. These hypotheses seem all the more probable in their appeal to the imagination. But if we take into account one of Vivier’s interviews with Radio-Canada, it becomes clear that the musical idea behind Lonely Child is the lavish marriage of timbres, “of great stacks of colour,” that seem in keeping with the syllables of his invented language.

Martine Rhéaume