is a perfect pastel, like Offrande
a portrait of a tentative love that is doomed to disappointment and incomprehension. The accompaniment oscillates, a quaver chord in each hand. Harmonies change only with the greatest subtlety in the right hand, the left maintaining a pedal on a succession of open fifths for up to fifteen bars at a time. The vocal line seems caught within a small circle of notes as if to reflect the unchanging constancy of the narrator. The calm atmosphere of the evening is beautifully caught, and the whole song seems redolent of the perfumes of ebonies and lilacs. All of this is to set up the poignant change of harmony on ‘vous’ at the end, masterfully preceded by an unaccompanied bar where the voice is released from the strait-jacket of those gently pulsating quavers. I have in my possession a copy of this song (with a drawing of the stone bench, of course) inscribed by ‘R.H.’ to Madeleine Lemaire—‘Souvenir de Réveillon’. As Reynaldo met Proust at Réveillon it is all too tempting to wonder whether it was the failure of this relationship that the composer had in mind when inscribing this song for his hostess.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996