Catherine Baker

flute, instruction, & design

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Ravel: Chansons Madecasses

  • 714 Prospect Boulevard Pasadena, CA, 91103 United States (map)

Join Argenta Walther, Margaret Edmondson, Catherine Baker and Mark Robson as they perform Salon Music on this fine evening! Reception to follow.

Text of Chansons Madecasses:

Nahandove, oh beautiful Nahandove! 
The night bird has begun to sing,
the full moon shines overhead, 
and the first dew is moistening my hair.
Now is the time: who can be delaying you? 
Oh beautiful Nahandove!

The bed of leaves is ready; 
I have strewn flowers and aromatic herbs;
it is worthy of your charms, 
oh beautiful Nahandove!

She is coming. I recognise the rapid breathing 
of someone walking quickly; 
I hear the rustle of her skirt. 
It is she, it is the beautiful Nahandove!

Catch your breath, my young sweetheart; 
rest on my lap.  
How enchanting your gaze is, 
how lively and delightful the motion of your breast 
as my hand presses it!  
You smile, oh beautiful Nahandove!

Your kisses reach into my soul; 
your caresses burn all my senses. 
Stop or I will die! 
Can one die of ecstasy? 
Oh beautiful Nahandove!

Pleasure passes like lightning; 
your sweet breathing becomes calmer,
your moist eyes close again, 
your head droops, 
and your raptures fade into weariness. 
Never were you so beautiful, 
oh beautiful Nahandove!

Now you are leaving, and I will languish in sadness and desires.
I will languish until sunset. 
You will return this evening, 
oh beautiful Nahandove!

Awa! Awa! Do not trust the white men, you shore-dwellers! In our fathers' day, white men came to this island. "Here is some land," they were told, "your women may cultivate it. Be just, be kind, and become our brothers." The whites promised, and all the while they were making entrenchments. They built a menacing fort, and they held thunder captive in brass cannon; their priests tried to give us a God we did not know; and later they spoke of obedience and slavery. Death would be preferable! The carnage was long and terrible; but despite their vomiting thunder which crushed whole armies, they were all wiped out. Awa! Awa! Do not trust the white men! We saw new tyrants, stronger and more numerous, pitching tents on the shore. Heaven fought for us. It caused rain, tempests and poison winds to fall on them. They are dead, and we live free! Awa! Awa! Do not trust the white men, you shore-dwellers! 


It is sweet in the hot afternoon to lie under a leafy tree and wait for the evening breeze to bring coolness. Come, women! While I rest here under a leafy tree, fill my ears with your sustained tones. Sing again the song of the girl plaiting her hair, or the girl sitting near the ricefield chasing away the greedy birds. Singing pleases my soul; and dancing is nearly as sweet as a kiss. Tread slowly, and make your steps suggest the postures of pleasure and ecstatic abandonment. The breeze is starting to blow; the moon glistens through the mountain trees. Go and prepare the evening meal.