Sophie Lacaze’s Voyelles (based on a poem by Arthur Rimbaud), for Alto Saxophone.
“Black A, white E, red I, green U, blue O” – in 1993, inspired by the verses of Arthur Rimbaud, Sophie Lacaze chose the Flute’s timbre to explore the “latent births” of the poem’s vowels in Voyelles. In doing so, she counters the bias that this supposedly translucent instrument is incapable of generating colour. Originally written for Flute and Voice, Voyelles was later turned into a version for four Flutes and Reciter (2005), before being adapted ten years later for Alto Saxophone. Here again, the instrumentalist can either say the text or work with a reciter. The composer retained the original’s skilful arrangement, built on the model of theme and variations. Each vowel corresponds to a note and a colour depicted through a specific technique that is indicated in the introduction and forms the theme. Each colour-vowel couple, which starts on the associated note, is played as a variation with a technique that evokes the poem’s imagery: the ‘Flatterzunge’ recalls the buzzing of the “brilliant flies”, the “shivering umbels” of the E are suggested by slow vibratos coupled with the sung voice, while for the I, the beat accelerates, replicating the purple lips of laughter or anger. An alchemy of sound that begets miracles.