This is Poulenc’s last setting of the poetry of Paul Éluard, a song composed as a tribute to that great champion of French modern music, the singer Jane Bathori, on her eightieth birthday. In terms of its tonality (it begins in A minor) and style it recalls Juan Gris
from Le travail du peintre
, without attempting to match that song’s visionary level. It displays an ease in setting Éluard’s words that could only have been achieved after nearly a quarter of a century’s practice. The poem was chosen from À toute épreuve
, the collection of poetry with which Poulenc had begun his musical association with the poet in 1935, a full circle that might have been the result of deliberate choice. As Poulenc wrote in JdmM: ‘I have taken all that I could from Éluard, Apollinaire, Max Jacob etc …’.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013