The painting of L’embarquement pour Cythère
by Watteau depicts a happy party of eighteenth-century courtiers preparing for the voyage of a lifetime—a journey of sybaritic luxury and communal jollity. The Hillemachers’ L’invitation au voyage
(marked Assez animé) is of this ilk, far from the transcendental nature of Duparc’s mélodie, and less flirtatious than Cressonnois or Godard. This voyage, like the one undertaken by Chabrier to L’île heureuse
, is optimistic and even slightly hearty. Like Duparc the Hillemachers set only the first and last verse of Baudelaire’s poem (they omit the second strophe about the polished furniture). The composers have also omitted those great lines ‘Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,/Luxe, calme et volupté’ from their setting. Perhaps this is just as well as the song with its tripping triplets is not exactly calm. This carefree omission and other liberties taken with the order of the text are also signs that at the time of the song’s composition Baudelaire’s controversial poetry was not yet revered and considered of canonical importance.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes