is another Hugo setting and, if less famous than Si mes vers
, it has always had its admirers. The theme is unforced, dreamy charm; the piano’s vamping (alternating legato with staccato) at first seems almost comic in its accommodating will to please, and then strikes us as ever so slightly cheeky—an antidote to the romanticism of the words. The elegant onrushing of triplets against a background of steady duplets gives a delightful elasticity to the vocal line if the singer knows how to make use of the rhythmic freedom. In a cadential phrase like ‘Donne un baiser’ the composer, young as he is, is able to suggest not only the pleasure of entering into an emotional attachment but also the possibility of pain and uncertainty. It is this suggestion of a lifetime’s experience which makes Hahn’s precocious achievements so remarkable. At a similar cadence the phrase ‘De mes chansons’ (with a long-held note on the final syllable) suggests the sound of love songs of the past melting into thin air.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996