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Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961)
Le Transsibérien (1976)
1. Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jeanne de France (23:40)
2. Les Pâques à New York (19:35)
This disc is a rendition of two Blaise Cendrars poems, read by French actor Vicky Messica, and complete with music accompaniment and choir. The 1st one, La Prose du Transsibérien, or The Prose of the Transiberian Railroad, was written by Swiss-born poet Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961) in 1913. It is an unpunctuated poem narrating a railroad trip from Paris to Siberia by a poet and a young whore named Jehanne. The poem is quite radical in its inexhaustible, all-embracing flow, mixing economics and business, politics and geography, the 1905 Russian revolution and the Russo-Japanese war, homesickness and nostalgia. The edition itself, the first French abstract illustrated book, is considered the greatest 20th century artist book in France. The edition was a meager 60 or 70 hand-painted copies, with stencils and design by Sonia Delaunay (née Terk, Ukraine, 1885-1979), self-published by Cendrars' own Editions des Hommes Nouveaux in 1913, an imprint he created with Emil Szittya. In 2009, a copy changed hands at Christie's Paris for $145,000. A complete French version of the poem can be found here, and an English version is here. Here's how US art critic Johanna Drucker describes the book:
Vicky Messica's reading style is comparable to Jacques Doyen's own poetry readings (see here), that is, dramatized renditions of poems used purely as librettos, yet the music accompaniment on this LP is arguably what makes it stand out. Composed by Jean-Pierre Limborg, it perfectly suits the hallucinatory atmosphere of the Transsibérien and the mythological grandeur of Les P‰ques ˆ New York. On the former, Limborg raises glacial, intangible sonorities from an Oberheim synthesizer. On Les Pâques, he plays both synth and piano, along a bass and drums section, for what sounds at times like a progressive rock epic improvisation à la Heldon or Pôle Records. On both tracks, the female vocals add the final touch to the surreal, louche evocations of the poems.
01 Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jeanne de France (23:40)
Vicky Messica: voice
Total time 43:15
Liner notes by Continuo.
Presented in collaboration with Continuo