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Fête champêtre, by the French rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), an inspiration for the French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine

A Poetical & Vocal Approach to French ‘Mélodies’ on Oboe

The interdisciplinary research of Anna Marieke Zijlstra presents a contextualization and musico-literary analysis on the French poem and art song “Colloque sentimental” from Paul Verlaine and Claude Debussy, followed by a full-fledged transcription of this ‘mélodie’ for English horn, expanding the existing oboe repertoire.

In the annotation and interpretation of “Colloque sentimental” a poetical and vocal approach has been applied, aiming to communicate a deeper understanding of the ‘poésie’ and ‘mélodie’ for performance practices. The study and singing of the song resulted in an experimentation and reflection of playing the ‘mélodie’ on English horn, a process of musically translating the poetry into an instrumental transcription that takes into account the particularities and possibilities of the language and voice as well as these of the instrument in question, with the aim of providing useful material for fellow oboists and those who are interested. For example, it was demonstrated during the research process how the understanding of literary and vocal phrases enhances horizontal and legato phrasing on English horn. Consequently, an important challenge in this case consisted of writing the transcription in a feasible notation that would be playable for any oboist, even without prior knowledge of the French language and poetry, hopefully leading to a poetical and purposeful performance of the piece.

All the documentation of the research of Anna Maria can be found on the Research Catalogue of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague via this link.

Colloque Sentimental / Sentimental Colloquy

Poetic Analysis & Annotation
'Colloque Sentimental', translated by Winifred Radford (1976)
Performance of 'Colloque Sentimental'

"Ah! Les beaux jours de bonheur indicible” / "The beautiful days of inexpressible happiness"

Singing is feeling similar to playing, validating instrument choice besides lower tessitura and alto timbre: a suitable, soft colour for a sentimental colloquy

Anna Marieke notates and sings the Melody at Amare
Anna Marieke plays the Melody on her Oboe at Amare

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