This song testifies to Debussy’s perennial need of money. In 1880 he took on the job of accompanying a singing class held by Mme Moreau-Sainti for what the newspapers of the time dubbed ‘les jeunes filles du meilleur monde’. Not all of them were that ‘jeunes’, including the 28-year-old Mme Emile Deguingand and the 32-year-old Marie Vasnier, both married to husbands a good deal older than themselves. Fleur des blés
, which he dedicated to Mme. Deguingand early in 1881, depicts the undulation of the wheat in regular semiquavers and again employs the 7th, 6th and 3rd notes of the scale to good effect. Debussy treats the four stanzas as two groups of two, with the second group being a barely varied version of the first. The tone is contemplative and restful, animated gently by the alternations in the vocal line of duplets and triplets—soon to become a Debussy hallmark.
from notes by Roger Nichols © 2003