The Fantaisie romantique
dates from the same period as much of the Album d’un voyageur
, and is similar in style to the Fleurs mélodiques
but at a much extended length. The opening section is based on the four-note motif heard in the first bar and a plaintive cow-call after the first upward flourish. The cow-call is transformed into a pastoral Allegretto, and a second flourish leads to the first theme proper. This theme eventually recalls the four-note motif. The second theme, marked ‘La nostalgie—Mal du pays’ (which does not come from No 7b of the Fleurs mélodiques
, pace Humphrey Searle) is stated in octaves with repeated chordal accompaniment. Thereafter, all the material is subjected to very free, improvisatory development, exploiting a wide range of colours. Of course this is all a bit wild and rambling, but the sheer originality of the piece quietens academic criticism.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1992