The composers of this music are aware of the achievements of Liszt and Wagner who employed a new and daring harmonic vocabulary, far from the Schumannian example prized by Godard. As an indication that they were not entirely carried away with Wagnerian fervour the song is dedicated to Massenet. The poem is drawn from Les solitudes
of Sully Prudhomme (1869). It was unforgettably set by Henri Duparc (the composer’s second song) shortly after the poem first appeared in print. It is inconceivable that the Hillemachers were unaware of Duparc’s music, but it was very much in the spirit of the times for rival composers to ‘have a go’ with an alternative version, despite a rival’s success. It took someone of the depth of Chabrier to suppress his own Invitation au voyage
once he had heard the setting by his comrade Duparc.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes