The poem is from Gautier’s La comédie de la mort
(1838). Although Paladilhe’s song of 1873 cannot match the sheer pianistic ingenuity of the famous Chausson setting of these words (1880) it has other strengths. Chausson quickly passes over the eastern provenance of these exotic butterflies (as exotic as the same composer’s humming bird—Le colibri
) that surround the poet’s dark-eyed Indian beauty, his ‘bayadère’. Paladilhe has an Andantino middle section to his song where the passage ‘ô belles des belles’ prompts quasi-oriental melisma.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes