A Bach Christmas – IUNX- L’Ether and Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse

I want to re-blog a post that I wrote for Ca Fleure Bon some Christmases ago, it’s now, as it was then for those of you who find the time to read perfume blogs over Christmas; a Christmas card from me, with some musical perfumed thoughts, and the two fragrances which I associate with this joyful time.

To me there is no Christmas without Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (1734). It is the most tender and joyous interpretation of the Christmas story. It’s a mixture of texts from the New Testament, poems created especially for the arias and hymns from the common hymnal that everyone would have known at the time and still sings today on Sunday services.

Botticelli Mystic Nativity

Botticelli Mystic Nativity

The Hymns are special in that Bach gave them new life through incredible 4 part vocal settings, sometimes even with added slightly different instrumental parts, especially with the one verse in mind that these were created for. As great as the work is in its entirety, somehow it’s the intimacy of these simple hymns which bring the last bit of heart aching beauty to this glorious masterpiece.

Schaut hin, dort liegt im finstern Stall,

dess’ Herrschaft gehet überall.

Da Speise vormals sucht ein Rind,

da ruhet itzt der Jungfrau’n Kind.

Look there, he lies in manger drear
Whose power reacheth ev’rywhere!
Where fodder once the ox did seek,
There resteth now the Virgin’s child.

I love the theatre like text of this hymn; it invites you to look in on the scene from afar. The gloomy stables are discreetly suggested by the descending voice of basses and the warmth and intimacy of the words are painted with soft brush strokes of accompanying close knit voices. If a perfume comes close to this, it’s Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse by Mathilde Laurent. It is stables and the scent of animal and human warmth. It manages even the slight gloominess and dampness of that stable, and yet inviting us to come closer too, with all the cosiness of fresh hay and the enclosing cows and oxen. The hymn ends with the basses providing a rocking –like motion, to help the child asleep. If a fragrance could have a rocking motion, it would be the base of L’Heure Fougueuse. It is my perfect scent track to this song.

Fabriano Adoration of the Magi

Fabriano Adoration of the Magi


An absolute favourite of mine is the setting of this next hymn

Ich will dich mit Fleiß bewahren

ich will dir leben hier,

dir will ich abfahren,

mit dir will ich endlich schweben

voller Freud, ohne Zeit

dort im andern Leben.

I will cherish You assiduously,
I will
live for You here,
to You will I depart,
with You, at last, I will float
full of joy,
there in the other life.

This hymn belongs on the 27th, the third Christmas day. The immediate festivities are about to end, everything points towards the new year, a new time. There is stillness in the air and a sense of waiting; it’s a time of contemplation and reflection. To me the closest to this sensation is Olivia Giacobetti’s L’Ether for IUNX, because this incredibly soft incense perfume invites introspective thoughtfulness. In the hymn the most fervent desire comes to expression. Giacobetti being a master of transparency, she manages to create this fervour in an incense and saffron swirl, which floats like the tenor voice which takes a ’leap of faith’ as it raises on the word ‘schweben’ (to float).

In the middle of this almost spiritual swirl of fragrance there is a discreet rose heart, which to me, mirrors the sighs of the alto voice on ‘endlich’ (finally), and there is the golden hue of saffron which is softened by sandalwood. Even if this can be worn all year round, somehow it manages to sum up the soul of Christmas to me. A divine creation.

A very merry Christmas to you allDSC02603

*sample obtained by me/ given to me by Suzanne, see her lovely review of Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse here and Grain de Musc’s review here

Feature and bottom image my own.

10 thoughts on “A Bach Christmas – IUNX- L’Ether and Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse

  1. I remember this post! So tranquil and lovely (and fitting to who you are, musically). I’m glad you added it to your blog at this holiday time.

    Reminds me of how someday I’d like to revisit the sublime L’Ether – and makes me happy that the L’Heure Fougueuse sample helped inspire this tender piece of writing. Thanks for the link love, Asali.

    • Dear Suzanne, thank you, yes I felt it had to come and live here also, that it fits with my blog. It’s after all rare that something inspires me to link it so tightly with music 🙂 And I remember your first comment too, so I had a feeling you’d remember, though I feel honoured that you did.

  2. I’m a day late for the post but I found it really brings tranquility to the reader (to borrow Suzanne’s word). 🙂
    Wonderful! Now I need to listen to Oratorio.

    Merry Christmas dear Asali!

    • Thank you sweet Ines, yes I think the Christmas Oratorio, or WO (Weihnachts Oratorium) as they call it the Germany, can bring such a quiet joy. At times also not so quiet, but you know 🙂

  3. Thanks for re-blogging this, I missed it first time round. I do remember Suzanne’s original L’Heure Fougueuse post though, which launched a thousand lemmings 🙂

    L’Ether sounds fantastic. I am a fan of Giacobetti and recently fell for Passage d’Enfer. Saffron with incense sounds magical indeed. I need to explore IUNX.

    Great images as ever.

    Hope you had a good Christmas. Here’s to a fab 2015.

    • You’re very welcome, dear Tara. Yes, I can imagine Suzanne’s post doing that… You know, I think L’Ether might be a good match for you, I think it’s more ethereal than Passage d’Enfer, like at times you think it’s gone, and then it comes back. Proper Giacobetti style- wonderful. I like a lot of her things as well, her transparent style is so different from the ‘skin scent’-thing, for me a skin scent is diluted perfume, whereas her’s I feel is a coming and going of scent, and I am often surprised how much sillage her fragrances have.
      – And thank you as ever <3

  4. Yes, I missed this post first time round too, and you see so few reviews of IUNX that it was good to read your take on L’Ether. It is incredibly soft and meditative, so much so that I couldn’t have summoned it up from my memory. As ever, your reviews bring it back to me. And schweben is a favourite word of mine, albeit indelibly associated in my mind with Wuppertal’s famous monorail / ‘Schwebebahn’.

    • Thank you Vanessa, and I take it L’Ether is one you actually quite like? It is soft and meditative, and had it been skin scent-like it would not have been for me, but somehow it’s not, she manages to do something else entirely. Schwebebahn I’m afraid would not be for me, it would include some serious hights I take it…

      • To be honest, it was quite indistinct on me – the essence of meditation being of course to lose consciousness – so I don’t recall it except for that quality and what I learnt in your review. I bought the one that smells of tart yellow roses (Eau Frappee) and also found one with a wheat note quite intriguing (Eau Baptiste).

        Just checked out my post on my second visit to the store – the first one, where I bought Eau Frappee was pre-blog – and here I had this to say of L’Ether. Blimeyl, I am nothing if not consistent, and that was over 3 years ago, hehe!:

        “I didn’t dislike this one, but it was rather too indistinct – the myrrh may have blurred it over in some way.”

  5. It’s so beautiful – the way you make parallels between … notes.

    I will re-test L’Heure Fougueuse (the sample of which I also got from Suzanne 🙂 ) and I’ll try to get more perfumes from IUNX to try: somehow this brand and I have crossed our paths just once (Eau Frappee).

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