Do you speak French? Could you help me translate this?
January 27, 2013 6:57 PM   Subscribe

My piano teacher gave me the music for this. The video is of one of my fave pianists (Cortot) giving a masterclass on the piece and I'd really like to know what he's saying. (Hope this is the appropriate place to ask.)
posted by mermily to Education (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Whoops! I forgot the video. Link
posted by mermily at 6:59 PM on January 27, 2013

Here's my attempt:

"The freedom/relaxation of the french, but a dreamier feeling. The truth that you must dream the last part, not play it. Would you permit me to take your place?"

Then he starts to play.
posted by Kololo at 7:19 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

it's " The expressive relaxation of the phrase [I take it this is a musical term?]" not "of the french" Then as kololo says.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:29 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The French -- accents aside -- appears to be as follows, if googling gives you more music-related terms:

La detente expressive de la phrase mais un sentiment plus reveuse. La verite qu'il faut rever ce dernier morceau, pas le jouer. Voulez vous me permettre de prendre votre place.

The feeling of relaxation of the phrase, but with more dreamy a sense. The truth is that you must dream, not play, this last part. Would you allow me to take the seat?

I'm not positive about the first sentence.
posted by jeather at 7:30 PM on January 27, 2013

Also, 'morceau' means 'peice' here not part, so he's saying you must dream the last song not just part.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:30 PM on January 27, 2013

oh there's more! 'And don't tie the two phrases together! They are different elements of the same musical condition. And here, like a kind of question. . . and again, tenderly, question the future. . . A from here on, let it write itself simply, not in the music. . .

Dang there is more which I will do shortly but a friend just stopped in.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:34 PM on January 27, 2013

Here is the whole french if that will help you translate ! There's one bit that I could not hear correctly. I'm a native speaker if that counts for something.
La détente expressive de la phrase... mais un sentiment plus rêveur. La vérité est qu'il faut rêver ce dernier morceau, pas le jouer. Voulez-vous me permettre de prendre votre place ?

... et là ne pas relier les deux phrases, ce sont deux éléments différents de la même condition musicale. Et ici, comme une sorte d'interrogation... et à nouveau une autre... tendrement... interroger l'avenir. Et à partir d'ici, que ça s'inscrive simplement, non pas dans la musique, mais par un [inaudible] dans l'immortidité.

... et laisser s'évanouir les sonorités qui doivent disparaître, s'éteindre, et vous laisser simplement en présence d'un rêve qui se poursuit.
There's also a very weird word ("immortidité") that I do not know and that is not in any dictionary I own (even the historic ones). Maybe it means "immortalité" ?
posted by agregoire at 8:05 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

If Cortot meant "immordidité", it seems that "mordidité" is an uncommon form of "morbidité. Morbidité could be translated by "morbidity", and it usually relates to the morbid character of something, either literally, in a medical sense (like when two conditions, like ADHD and anxiety, are said to be co-morbid), or figuratively, to say that something is sinister.

But "morbid" here could be related to morbidesse, from the Italian morbidezza. In painting, it means the softness and delicateness in the modelé of the flesh. By extension, in music, it can mean "Grâce alanguie empreinte de mélancolie suggérant une certaine nonchalance." So... something like "languid grace with touches of melancholy, which suggests a certain nonchalance".
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:44 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

The poor guy is playing and talking at the same time, and I think he just meant to say "immortalité" (what he actually says sounds like "immortilité" to me - just a slip IMO).

Using agregoire's transcription, which looks fine to me, here's my version. Note that the first thing he says is probably a continuation of a previous sentence/paragraph:

"the expressive relaxation of the phrase... but a more dreamy feeling. The truth is that you have to dream this last piece, rather than play it. Would you permit me to take your place?

... here, don't link the two phrases, they are two different parts of the same musical world. Here, it's like a question... and here is another... tenderly... ask questions about what is to come. And from this point, let it be not music but, in a stroke of genius [what he says here sounds to me like "par un coup de génie"], immortality.

... and let the sound fade, it must disappear, be put out [like a light], and leave you with just a continuing dream."

My version isn't as poetic as Cortot but with any luck you should be able to make sense of what he says. Not sure if you know any French but for what it's worth "s'inscrire... dans la musique" is a tricky phrase and doesn't really mean "write itself in music" (I can't really work out what that does mean) but more like "falls within the scope of music" - i.e. Cortot claims that this goes beyond music and is something that will live forever.

I love this video - it's a really useful tool for learning.

(credentials FWIW: I translate French to English for a living and am a musician the rest of the time, but not a pianist!)
posted by altolinguistic at 3:33 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I love this video - it's a really useful tool for learning.

It's fabulous, isn't it?

Thanks so much for your help everyone! The actual translation is even cooler than what I imagined he was saying. I really appreciate your help.
posted by mermily at 4:50 AM on January 28, 2013

One last thing - I'm sure you've worked this out already (some previous answerers didn't) but "ce dernier morceau" just means the last piece of the set, i.e. Der Dichter Spricht, the last piece in Kinderszenen.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:05 AM on January 28, 2013

« Older I used to be a lawyer, but I h...   |  So, my skin doesn't like metal... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.