A few words about Poil de Carotte; a few words to admit that his experience is very remote from my own… I am lucky in having had a happy childhood, whence the constant and ever-increasing feelings of nostalgia that find their way into my poems, prose and music. If there is a child I can identify with, it is the one in Georges Schehadé, hiding “behind the roses”, sometimes with “tormented eyes”, yet loving and trusting his “faithful home”; or the one in Léon‑Paul Fargue who has lasting memories of a scented garden: “jardin de jadis, veilleuse parfumée”. No, I have nothing in common with Poil de Carotte. I am not even sure that I like him. But can one like Poil de Carotte? He is, to quote a film title, “ugly, dirty and bad”. Yet he is such a picture of distress that I was haunted by him for several years in spite of myself. I did not want to feel more sorry for him than the author does. The mixture of pain and irony shown by the latter—a volatile combination—made me feel apprehensive in the knowledge that the music could be detrimental to it. Above all, I dreaded that terrible final “maman”, which is so completely different from the one at the end of L’Enfant et les sortilèges, and shows how very unalike those two children are: the one, forgiven, pacified, reconciled, returns to his family circle and to the community to which he belongs, returns to natural human warmth and affection; but from all those things the other boy is forever excluded. So I composed this short cycle in fits and starts, in successive waves, between 1986 and 1990. Then in 2006 I revised and amended it and presented it to Florence Katz, who gave the first performance at the Nancy Festival.
(translation Mary Pardoe)
A recording of L’Album de Poil de Carotte is available on the Timpani label.
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