Les Espaces du sommeil

Les Espaces du sommeil is a work for baritone and orchestra set to a poem of Robert Desnos[1]:539–540[2] by the Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. It is in one movement, with a three-section scheme but lacking clearly marked caesuras, about which Lutosławski stated: "Les Espaces is neither a song nor a set of songs, but a symphonic poem with a baritone solo."[3]

Composed in 1975, it was first performed on 12 April 1978 in Berlin by the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of the composer.[4] The piece is Lutosławski's first composition set to the poetry of Robert Desnos, to which the composer returned in 1990's Chantefleurs et Chantefables.[5][6]



Les Espaces du sommeil lasts 15 minutes and is composed in one movement but with a three-section scheme:

  1. Dans la nuit il y a naturellement les sept merveilles
  2. Il y a toi l'immolée, toi que j'attends
  3. Il y a toi sans doute que je ne connais pas


The work is scored for solo baritone and a small orchestra consisting of 3 flutes (2 & 3 doubling piccolo), 3 oboes, 3 clarinets in B-flat (3 doubling bass clarinet in B-flat), 3 bassoons, 3 trumpets in C, 4 horns in F, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion, timpani, harp, piano (doubling celesta), and strings.[4]


Les Espaces du sommeil has been praised by music critics. Andrew Clements of The Guardian stated that "the orchestral forces of Les Espaces du sommeil, dedicated to the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, are substantial and refined."[7] George Hall of BBC Music Magazine mentioned "the atmospheric (...) setting of Robert Desnos exploring the borderland between waking and dreaming."[8]

See also


  1. ^ Dumas, Marie-Claire, ed. (1999). Robert Desnos: Œuvres (in French). Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 978-2-0707-5427-4.
  2. ^ Desnos, Robert. "Les Espaces du sommeil" (in French). Un Jour Un Poème. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  3. ^ Chłopecki, Andrzej. "Les Espaces du sommeil". The Witold Lutosławski Society - "Output". Translated by Kapelański, Maksymilian. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b Lutosławski, Witold (1975). "Les Espaces du sommeil". G. Schirmer Inc. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  5. ^ Lutosławski, Witold (1990). "Chantefleurs et Chantefables". G. Schirmer Inc. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  6. ^ Platt, Russell (2005). Woodstra, Chris; Brennan, Gerald; Schrott, Allen (eds.). All Music Guide to Classical Music: The Definitive Guide to Classical Music. Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. p. 775. ISBN 978-0-8793-0865-0.
  7. ^ Clements, Andrew (1 September 2011). "Lutosławski: Chantefleurs et Chantefables; Les Espaces du Sommeil; Paroles Tissées, etc – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  8. ^ Hall, George (20 January 2012). "Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Les espaces du sommeil". BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved 7 March 2019.

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