This poem is taken from Les pariétaires
(1855) by Émile Augier, a collection also known to Gounod (for his song Boire à l’ombre
). This mélodie is among Delibes’s earlier creations. It is cast in the form of a ‘scène’ which reminds us that the composer was an admirer of Meyerbeer, although the creaky melodramatic poses of the Second Empire are here redeemed by a smooth and felicitous technique that avoids over-sentimental emphasis. The poet’s original four strophes are arranged into an ABA structure with a coda: the ‘A’ section, a G minor aria, suggests manly determination; the middle section (Beaucoup plus lent), in A flat major, has a triplet-accompanied canonic melody between voice and piano that recalls the style of Gounod.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes