Espenbaum, A Cycle of Melodies on the Poems of Paul Celan/Sacred Music: original production/France
Michaël Lévinas, piano
Marion Grange, soprano
Alongside soprano Marion Grange, the composer Michaël Lévinas on piano happily revisits the Morocco he knew as a child with his father, the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas. His return allows us to enjoy his Melodies on the Poems of Paul Celan, from his oratorio La Passion selon Marc (The Passion according to Mark) and other pieces of original work inspired by the Kaddish of Jewish tradition.
‘In 2016 I composed The Passion according to Mark – A Passion after Auschwitz … This work ends with two melodies on the poems of Celan – Espenbaum (The Aspen Tree) and Die Schleuse (The Sluice). The shock of the encounter with Paul Celan’s poetry was considerable.
Espenbaum can be translated as ‘tremble’! The very essence of saying the word is trembling. It is in this trembling that the desperation of the poem is expressed. This is the same desperation after Auschwitz that scans and brutally interrupts The Sluice.
The idea was to compose, little by little, inspired by the poetry of Paul Celan, a cycle of melodies in the manner of the repertoire of the Lieder of German romanticism (Schubert, Schumann and Hugo Wolf), and of French melodies (Fauré, Debussy, Poulenc, Duparc).
The version that will be given at the Synagogue in Fes will be for soprano and piano. For me, this place represents an important place in my life and my Jewish identity as my father, Emmanuel Lévinas, devoted much of his life to the Direction of the ENIO of the Universal Israelite Alliance, supporting the education of the young people of Morocco and particularly of Fes.
It is therefore with great sentiment that I will be performing the Espenbaum cycle with Marion Grange at the Synagogue in Fes. The language of Celan still cries. It shouts out, it trembles.’