• Judith Weir
  • Nuits d'Afrique (2015)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Wigmore Hall, with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Foundation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation.

  • flpfvc
  • Soprano
  • 12 min

Programme Note

Nuits d’Afrique was written as a companion piece to Ravel’s Chansons madécasses and shares its instrumentation; soprano, flute, cello and piano.

In response to Ravel’s texts (by Évariste de Parny, who claimed that his ‘Madagascar Songs’ were translations from folk sources, although he had never been there), I searched for poetry by contemporary African women, and found it in Irène Assiba d’Almeida’s French-language anthology A Rain of Words.

The three writers represented here, Fatou Ndiaye Sow, Véronique Tadjo and Marie-Léontine Tsibinda come from Senegal, Ivory Coast and Congo-Brazzaville respectively. All were born in the 1950s. The poems evoke local life: a lullaby, the sound of drums, the appearance of a crocodile. The final poem, describing the continuity of village life, closes with a simple invocation which may recall the ending of Ravel’s composition.

Nuits d’Afrique is warmly dedicated to Ailish Tynan. My thanks also to Michel Vallat for his advice about French prosody.

J.W

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