In the ten years since composing his Poèmes de Ronsard Poulenc has changed as a song composer, and no longer feels the need to prove his credentials as an important modernist. For the final scene of Bourdet’s play he is content to write a song of mournful ennui, a sixteenth-century pastiche certainly (the composer confessed that he had thought of the fifteenth-century Château of Plessis-les-tours when writing it), but with a memorable melody and full of personal feeling. (Eighteen years later Benjamin Britten was to write a similarly haunting evocation—the second lute song of the Earl of Essex from Gloriana.) Ronsard’s wonderful poem with this title is in thirteen strophes; sadly, but understandably, Poulenc selects only the first and third, the first verse appearing twice in an ABA structure, framed by a prelude and postlude suggesting the twanging of lute strings.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013