Baptiste Trotignon, Au bout du petit matin

Baptiste Trotignon, Au bout du petit matin

“ I discovered the Vocello ensemble in early 2015 and was immediately impressed by their very moving and intricate work on sound and its inflections, and the movement that accompanies vocal purpose, that very unique link between the cello and the chorus, which raises the question of how to make a non-wind instrument “sing”. It has been a major fixation of mine throughout my training as an instrumentalist and I have always been fascinated by pianists who succeed in giving the illusion of vocalisations through a keyboard instrument. 


I met Henri Demarquette around the same time. We imagined working together on a common project with Vocello would be a way of opening up and mirroring our creative worlds. The idea of creating music around this vocal purpose felt very exciting, to add to the pleasure of working with a performer who is so passionate about the ardent expressiveness of his instrument, and with Sequenza 9.3, such a relevant vocal ensemble.


Henri and I started thinking about which texts to put to music, and we soon had both the idea and desire to create a link with my culture as a jazz musician, and by extension with black culture, since African-American music has always been an endless source of inspiration in my career. However, it seemed clear to me that we should avoid falling into the trap of directly referencing gospel culture which, whilst magnificently epitomising black vocal culture, would have swallowed up the project by giving it a tone I did not wish it to have. That is when I remembered the Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, a long poem by Aimé Césaire which I had read a few years previously and which had struck me by its beauty, obviously, but also by its strength and the overwhelming violence in its demands, and the famous concept of “black culture” immediately reminded me of the power of blues and the essence of African-American music.


Therefore, with Au bout du petit matin... – which is also the opening line of the book and which, to my mind, is evocative of some sort of West-Indian blues, a mix of nostalgia and hope – I wanted to write a piece of music that would be evocative of the depth of that dark period of history as told by Césaire, with its violence and blackness, but at the same time with its intense brightness and the pride and joy that goes with it. ”


Baptiste TROTIGNON - January 2018



World premiere

Au bout du petit matin

For chorus and cello

25 March 2018, Toulouse

Commision by Vocello

Extracts of Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, Aimé Césaire

Cello, Henri Demarquette

Sequenza 9.3

Cond. Catherine Simonpietri