Retrospectively, 1958 proved a turning point for André Almuró [see previous post & wiki]. Though he had just joined Pierre Schaeffer’s newly launched GRM, 1958 was the year Almuró actually started emancipating himself from Schaeffer’s sphere of influence. That year he produced very personal electroacoustic works like Croquis aux Percussions and Erostrauss, ventured into film making with Pierre Clémenti (“Les Enfants de Misère”), and created his awesome Van Gogh, Le Suicidé De La Société, a radio play after Antonin Artaud’s 1947 book of the same name, written after the visit of a Van Gogh exhibition. The actors are Maria Casarès and Roger Blin, for whom Almuró created a bold radiophonic mise en scène and stunning, if short, musique concrète interludes. The LP was reissued by BAM in 1970 with a different cover.
Born in 1907, Blin collaborated to the stage direction of Artaud’s play The Cenci in 1935 (including parts for Ondes Martenot) and their friendship survived Artaud’s internment years (1937-1946). Maria Casarès and Roger Blin first collaborated on the infamous Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu 1947 radioplay, also written by Artaud. Both later played in Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée, 1950, and in Almuró’s radio play Nadja Etoilée, 1955, based on André Breton’s book.
Artaud’s Van Gogh is not a dialogue nor a theater play. For this radiophonic adaptation, Almuró distributed the reading between the 2 actors, taking advantage of Casarès’ smooth voice to bring relief during the reading of the intensely emotional text, and using Blin’s stately voice to deliver disturbing and maddening sentences that fall on you like a hammer blow. In addition, the composer inserted claustrophobic, musique concrète noises (bass rumbles, metallic resonances, strange shamanistic looped vocals at 9:20 into side 1, etc) mirroring the alienation experienced by the Dutch painter and French writer. The fact the former’s work was completely ignored during his lifetime could only resonate in Almuró, himself almost completely obliterated from the history of electroacoustic music.
01 Van Gogh, Le Suicidé de la Société (19:48)
02 Van Gogh, Le Suicidé de la Société – continued (21:45)
Total time 41:33
LP released by BAM [Boîte à Musique], France, 1958
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