Maid of Athens
might have suffered the same fate (Byron’s exquisite lyric permanently transmuted to Vierge d’Athènes
) were it not for the recording of the song by Reynaldo Hahn in its original form and given a certain dreamy nostalgia by his delightfully inflected English. In the French and Italian versions the Greek refrain is eradicated which is reason enough to scorn them. The song was a very great success in Gounod’s lifetime and deservedly so—the mellifluous melodic invention is typical of the composer in his best Mediterranean mood. The English first edition is dedicated ‘to Byron’s original Maid of Athens, Mrs Black’.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993