Each of Lecock’s collection of Six Fables de La Fontaine
was dedicated to a different singer at the Opéra-Comique. This music is characterized by a sophisticated writing for keyboard (particularly in the passagework of La chauve-souris et les deux belettes
) that is lacking in the rather laboured and extended Offenbach settings of La Fontaine songs. The wit and concision of Lecocq’s mélodies, perfectly suited to the pithy texts, make us regret that more of Lecocq’s settings for voice and piano are not in the repertoire. The seventeenth-century fabulist has been the source of much music, including Poulenc’s ballet Les animaux modèles
; of the many nineteenth-century settings of La Fontaine those of Lecocq are among the few to have survived more sophisticated twentieth-century comparison (Caplet, Delage, Françaix).
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes