Music

Cécile


Story

Lyrics

Cécile

Comissioned by Eunghee Cho

Cécile, commissioned and dedicated to Eunghee Cho, is inspired by the novel Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness) by Françoise Sagan. The story goes:

Cécile, a carefree teenager, has spent her childhood in boarding schools. She has been living with her father, Raymond, a widow who is in his forties. They lead an idyllic existence where Cécile enjoys great freedom while her father has many mistresses.One summer, Cécile, her father Raymond, and Elsa, his mistress, are on holiday on the Côte d'Azur, in Southern France. Anne, a friend of Raymond’s late wife and who Raymond’s has vaguely invited to the villa shows up. Anne, who is closer in Raymond’s age, is a sophisticated, educated women unlike Elsa. Quickly, Anne disrupts the peaceful life at the villa: she sleeps with Raymond, announces their engagement, which prompts Elsa’s leave.Cécile is not happy, as Anne criticizes her idle lifestyle and her lack of intellectual ambitions. Cécile derives a plan with her summer fling, Cyril, by convincing him and Elsa to show up together as a couple at strategic points during their stay so make her father jealous. Raymond, unable to resist this provocation, seeks Elsa. Anne surprises them by chance in the nearby woods. Desperately, she takes her car and drives off a cliff.  Cécile and her father go back to their life, but Cécile is now feeling a new feeling: sadness.

“Only when I'm in my bed, at dawn, with only the noise of cars in Paris, my memory sometimes betrays me: the summer comes back with all my memories. Anne, Anne! I repeat this name in a low murmur and for a very long time  in the dark. Something them comes up in me, that I welcome by name with my eyes closed: Hello Sadness.”

Though the musical form of the quartet doesn’t follow the form of the novel, the essence of the music is very much inspired by the story and the delicacy of Sagan’s writing (who wrote Bonjour Tristesse at 18!), and the poem by Paul Éluard which inspired the title of the novel.

- Bosba Panh (2018)

 

“À Peine Défigurée”

poem by Paul Éluard, from  La vie immédiate, 1932

 

Adieu tristesse,

Bonjour tristesse.

Tu es inscrite dans les lignes du plafond.

Tu es inscrite dans les yeux que j’aime

Tu n’es pas tout à fait la misère,

Car les lèvres les plus pauvres te dénoncent

Par un sourire.

Bonjour tristesse.

Amour des corps aimables.

Puissance de l’amour

Dont l’amabilité surgit

Comme un monstre sans corps.

Tête désappointée.

Tristesse, beau visage.

 

•••

 

Farewell Sadness

Hello Sadness

You are inscribed in the lines on the ceiling

You are inscribed in the eyes that I love

You are not poverty absolutely

Since the poorest of lips denounce you

Ah with a smile

Bonjour Tristesse

Love of kind bodies

Power of love

From which kindness rises

Like a bodiless monster

Unattached head

Sadness beautiful face