It is not known when exactly this was composed, but as the listener to this disc may have already noticed, the dates of these songs are not of prime importance in understanding them. For all we know, it may come from the very beginning of the composerís career, it may date from the 1860s, or it may just as easily be contemporary with Suzette et Suzon
from the 1880s. The important thing is that it is a perfect little setting of La Fontaine, and it entirely fits the pithy and acerbic nature of the words. The schadenfreude which was so much part of Saint-SaŽnsí personality is here given glorious reign with the malicious tone of the dressing-down by the ant coming straight from the composerís heart. There are numerous felicitous details: the scurrying motif for the busy, industrious ant (Saint-SaŽns himself, always prudent and hard-working); the pathetic little appoggiatura on the word Ďfamineí; the little self-indulgent cantilena for the cicada, and the triumphant quotation of ĎJ'ai du bon tabací in the accompaniment at the end.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997