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probably 1868
author of text

This is a song where word and tone were not married by the composer himself. It is the last of the songs in the second recueil, sixteen posthumously published so-called mélodies – a confusing selection of works rehashed from unknown and incomplete Bizet operas. In order not to waste the master’s good tunes, bleeding chunks were excised from various works for which new words were sometimes commissioned. Here the famous hack Mendès takes a hand at inventing a text to the touching melody, and it is quite skilfully done in its way. Winton Dean avers that it is almost certain that this music originally came from the opera La coupe du roi de Thulé of which only a fragment survives. The mutilation of the composer’s scores (for the preparation of these Seize mélodies among other things) and the carelessness with which his manuscripts were treated, form one of the saddest stories in French music – it seems that even after his death Bizet’s bad luck continued. He was also unlucky in that Geneviève Bizet did not belong to that admirable band of composer’s widows who have taken it upon themselves to promote and protect the interests of their husbands’ music. Even Constanze Mozart, not unimpeachable in this respect, was a more careful guardian.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1998

Bizet lui-même semble ne jamais avoir égalé les paroles et l’atmosphère de cette chanson, la dernière des Seize mélodies, publiées posthumément, du Deuxième recueil – une sélection extrêmement déroutante d’œuvres remaniées à partir d’opéras inconnus ou inachevés de Bizet. L’idée ne fut pas de gâcher les bonnes mélodies du maître et, au lieu de tenter de reconstruire les œuvres telles qu’il les avait écrites, l’on préféra en couper de gros morceaux saignants, pour lesquels on commanda parfois de nouvelles paroles. En l’occurrence, le célèbre écrivaillon Mendès contribua à l’invention d’un texte pour la charmante mélodie de cette pièce, texte qui est, en fait, très habilement conçu, à sa manière. Winton Dean affirme que cette musique provenait presque certainement de l’opéra La coupe du roi de Thulé, dont seul un fragment survit. La mutilation des partitions du compositeur (pour la préparation des Seize mélodies, entre autres) et la négligence avec laquelle ses manuscrits furent traités est l’une des histoires les plus tristes de la musique française.

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 1998
Français: Hypérion


Bizet: Songs
CDA66976Archive Service


Track 15 on CDA66976 [2'27] Archive Service

Track-specific metadata for CDA66976 track 15

Recording date
7 May 1997
Recording venue
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Bizet: Songs (CDA66976)
    Disc 1 Track 15
    Release date: February 1998
    Deletion date: January 2013
    Archive Service
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