O tu che dormi e riposata stai
N testò bel letto senza pensimento [penzamento],
Risvegliati un pochino, è sentirai
Tuo servo che per te fa un gran lamento …
The Italian sources for the remaining strophes of Bussine’s poem-translation are to be found three pages further on in Canti popolari, a combination of ‘Fine della Serenata’: 2 (‘Non posso più cantar … Stanotte son dormito al ciel sereno’) and ‘Fine della Serenata’: 3 (‘Non posso più cantar, che non ho voce / E m’entra in bocca, e non mi lassa dire’ …). It was this last poem which was Paul Heyse’s source for the German translation ‘Nicht länger kann ich singen’, set to music by Hugo Wolf as No 42 of his Italienisches Liederbuch (1896). The Wolf song is richly comic but there is nothing amusing about Fauré’s, even if a confession of vocal limitations (‘che non ho voce’ or ‘ma voix expire’) is rare in an Italian song. The initial climb of the vocal line, followed by a fall in gradual stages, is another example of the ‘Viardot motif’ identified by Nectoux. The music is even more refined than the much earlierwith a similarly languid and luscious entwining of voice and piano. In Barcarolle the governing rhythm is that of an oar plying through the Venetian lagoon; this song, like all serenades worthy of the name, is accompanied by one version or other of those gently strummed chords which are a pianistic stand-in for lute or guitar. The original key is B flat minor; as is the greatest of all serenades in that tonality – Clair de lune.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005