Poor Pale Child
For Mezzo Soprano and Double Bass: On a Poem by Stéphane Mallarmé
The occasion for setting this poem of Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898) to music was the exhortation of Vassilis Papavassiliou and Angelica Cathariou to write a piece for the admittedly original combination of two apparently unconventional musical "instruments", meaning the human voice (mezzo soprano in this case) and the double bass. According to the comments of the Greek translator of the poem, Alexis Ziras, it was introduced in 1867 with the temporary title "La tete" (The head). The last form with the definite heading "Pauvre enfant pale" (Poor pale child) was published in Mallarme's collection "Pages" in 1891. Regarding music, the eight stanzas of the poem are characterized by a common thematic material that is modified or comes back identical from one stanza to the other. The double bass writing is contrapuntal to the voice, sometimes converging to, other times diverging from the corresponding II functional" melodic movement of the voice, acquiring in this way a solo character, in some cases strongerl in other weaker .