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Pastel

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author of text

 
Philippe Gille, librettist of Delibes’ Lakmé, was another of Bizet’s collaborators. There is a puzzling, and unsubstantiated, mention of an opera entitled La prêtesse composed to a Gille libretto as early as 1854, but he was certainly the author of Bizet’s opera Clarissa Harlowe, sketched (and abandoned) at the time of the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. As with Barbier, Gille’s services might have been enlisted to graft new words on to old tunes, but it seems possible that Pastel is an excerpt from Clarissa Harlowe. The music, a subdued little portrait aria (cf. Schumann’s duet Familien-Gemälde), suits the intimacy of the mélodie extremely well, and the song has found favour on the recital platform with a number of singers. The accompaniment, careful and tasteful rather than inspired, seems stiffer and less pianistic than something which might have come from the composer’s own hand; it suggests a dutiful vocal-score reduction. This does not detract from the charm of a song-aria which depends on its slowly unfolding melody and touches of surprisingly modern harmony (note the sevenths in the central piano interlude) to make its hauntingly poetic effect.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1998

Philippe Gille, librettiste du Lakmé de Delibes, collabora également avec Bizet. À l’instar de Barbier, il put contribuer à greffer de nouvelles paroles sur de vieilles mélodies, mais il semble possible que Pastel soit un extrait de Clarissa Harlowe, avec un texte de Gille. La musique, une petite aria-portrait contenue, adhère extrêmement bien à l’intimité de la mélodie, et la chanson a trouvé grâce, au récital, aux yeux d’un certain nombre d’interprètes. L’accompagnement, soigné et raffiné davantage qu’inspiré, évoque une consciencieuse réduction de partition vocale. Ce qui n’amoindrit pas le charme de cette aria-chanson fondée sur une mélodie lentement déployée, doublée de touches d’une harmonie étonnamment moderne (notez les septièmes dans l’interlude pianistique central), à même de rendre son effet incroyablement poétique.

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 1998
Français: Hypérion

Recordings

Bizet: Songs
CDA66976Archive Service

Details

Track 17 on CDA66976 [3'47] Archive Service

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