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Judith Weir

Publisher: Chester Music

Nuits d'Afrique (2015),
Commissioned by Wigmore Hall, with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Foundation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation.
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Solo Voices and 1-6 players
Year Composed
2015
Duration
12 Minutes
Language
French
Soloist
Soprano
Orchestration
Availability
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Programme Note
Judith Weir Nuits d'Afrique (2015),
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

  • Ensemble
    Hebrides Ensemble
    Soloist(s)
    Ailish Tynan, soprano
    Delphian:
Performances
Reviews
[Nuits d'Afrique's] poetry is all by African women born in the 1950s. Weir’s palette here was remarkable: a steamy lullaby with Arcadian flute, stuttering piano for the roll of the tom-toms, a rampant crocodile (the cello of Christian Elliott) tamed into a waltz, and the vagaries of village life, both cheery and sinister.
Marrtin Dreyer, The Press (York),23/07/2018
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