Hyperion Records

Vieille chanson
This song is among the more conservative delights of the first recueil. Its suggestions of the charms and gallantries of the ancien régime are beautifully etched; one is reminded that the composer’s grandfather would have lived in the reign of Louis XVI. Bizet has found an old-fashioned style to fit the poet’s epoch, a gift shared by Schubert when setting eighteenth-century verse. It is the most significant song to be written before the outburst of song-writing that was to occur in 1866, and it shows the composer’s legendary skills as a pasticheur at parties, improvising at the piano. It also shows his feeling for the voice and an unforced vocal line, and his ever-so-slightly amused affection for the courtly cadences of a past century. The musical depiction of the ‘fauvette’ (‘song-bird’) as a coloratura diva-influenced singer with a line in gently tripping semiquavers is a charming touch from Bizet’s own epoch. The poem is sexually suggestive in a gentle manner (without resorting to open ribaldry), and the music is faintly reminiscent of Mozart’s Dans un bois solitaire.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1998

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA66976 track 2
Recording date
7 May 1997
Recording venue
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Bizet: Songs (CDA66976)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: February 1998
    Deletion date: January 2013
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