This is another poem set by Liszt (under the title Comment disaient-ils
) although the song by Bizet (also Guitare
) is probably more famous; there is also an estimable setting of the words by Lalo. In 1851 the sixteen-year-old Saint-Saëns shows a great deal of flair: interesting points are the accelerando for the pianist in the opening bars that gives the song an air of improvisation, and a wide-ranging vocal line which climbs the stave impetuously, covering the distance of a tenth in a single dramatic gesture at ‘Fuir les alguazils’.
The song is dedicated to the composer Augusta Holmès to whom it was said that the composer was attracted, although one can scarcely imagine this celebrated Amazon in conjunction with the frail long-nosed youth.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997