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Amours, tides for baritone and ensemble (1991)
3 poems by John Montague

Commissioned by the city of Trappes for the Instrumental Ensemble of Music School Teachers

Bb trumpet (+ picc. Bb), Bb trumpet, F horn, trombone, tuba, 2 percussionists [I - snare drum, 2 bongos, 2 timpani, 4 cowbells, bass drum, 3 cymbals (small, medium, large ) – II - 5 tube bells, 5 toms, studded cymbal, tam-tam, 5 wood blocks] and double bass.

Duration: 8'. Unedited

A version still with baritone voice but with another set is planned

At the genesis of Amours, tides, there is my discovery of the collection of poems by John Montague, The tides of love and the request of the whole ??? to write for brass quintet with input from other instruments.


The solo voice and the percussions anchor the quintet in its historical past, while avoiding however an overly traditional and too direct connotation (no choir and apart from the tubular bells, the percussions are without determined heights: no timpani here). The piccolo trumpet, which often has an almost soloist role, is not unknown to this formation, it is only less commonly used.


This great diversity of timbres and dynamics joins the poetic universe of John Montague: “The rising tides of love that lift us up, the falling tides of death that drag us down to the bottom; between these two primary rhythms our life unfolds. For a brief moment, we balance like mayflies on the great Heraclitean river, but in a real life, we rediscover the great myths through our frail selves. The body is a cage where the spirit sings: a broken, solitary or loving song. (…) The poems in this collection reflect the difficult relationship between the psyche and the surrounding universe, the infinitely large and the infinitely small, the dream of union between microcosm and macrocosm. »


I chose to write a triptych. Three poems which, under different aspects, have quite close links between them: a vision of horror and dread, a look at nature, a philosophy of existence.


Thus, by the unity of the invoice and by the calculated way in which one shutter to another responds and balances the different patterns and the different colors, the whole of the work constitutes an inseparable whole, variation constant, inescapable until death: “we all turn, turn and tresh and disappear”.


This work is written in memory of my father, who died prematurely from Alzheimer's disease.


The three selected poems, Meduse - Sea changes - The tides of love, are taken from Amours, Marées, bilingual edition, choice of poems by Josine Monbet and Michael Scott, translated from English by the British Studies and Research Group , University of Bordeaux III, Editions William Blake, 1988.



Again she appears,

The putrid fleshed woman

Whose breath is ashes,

Hair a writhing net of snakes!


Her presence strikes gashes

Of light into the skull

Rears the genitals.


Tears away all

I had so carefully built –

Position, marriage, fame –

As heavily she glides towards me

Rehearsing the letters of my name

As if tracing them from

A rain streaked stone.


All night we turn

Towards an unsounded rhythm

Deeper, more fluent than breathing.

In the pale light of morning

Her body relaxes: the hiss of seed

Into that mawlike womb

Is the whimper of death being born.


Each rock pool a garden

Of colour, bronze and

Blue gleam of Irish moss,

Rose of coral algae,

Ocher of sponge where

Whelk and starfish turn

In odor of low tide;

Faint smell of stillness.


For there is no sea

it is a dream

there is no sea

except in the tangle

of our minds:

dark wine

sea of history

on which we all turn

turn and threshold

and disappear.


She reappears,

The filthy woman of flesh

Whose breath is ash,

The hair a knot of convulsed snakes !

His presence opens gaps

Searing in the skull

Dress sex.


Tear it all out

What I had built so well –

Situation, marriage, reputation –

While towards me, heavy, she slides

Repeating the letters of my name

As if she were deciphering them

On a stone streaked with rain.


All night we spin

Tend to an unfathomable rhythm,

Deeper, more flowing than the breath.

In the pale morning light her body

Calms down : the hiss of semen

Engulfed by this belly

Is the wail of death that comes into [the world.


Every puddle of garden rock

Colored, bronze glow

And blue pearl moss

pink seaweed coral

Ocher of the sponges where the whelk and the star turn

In a smell of low tide ;

Vague smell of silence


Because there is no sea

it's all just a dream

there is no more sea

except in the jumble

from our head :

the vinous sea

Of the history

where we all turn,

spin, we debate

and disappear.

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