Although Liszt is well known today mainly for his piano works, he had also devoted his time creatively to celebrate the voice. His vast composition portfolio includes more than 120 works for soloists or choir, both secular and religious. Some of these songs are not performed as regularly and can often be overshadowed by his dazzling pianistic works. Today we are going to put a spotlight on one of his French melodies, “S’il est un Charmant Gazon”, which George and I had the pleasure to record on our recent album, “Songs from our balcony”.
The French poem is taken from “Les Rayons et Les Ombres”, a collection of forty-four poems by Victor Hugo. In this musical interpretation, the piano accompaniment and vocal line melt into one another to suggest the sumptuous joy, which can be felt from a sweet dream of love. I imagine when I sing this song, a Disney animation where animated birds present delicate flowers to me. The floral fragrance of the lilies, honeysuckle, jasmine, and rose become personified in the air creating pastel-shaded fairies, who playfully sprinkle the perfume on the breeze, teasing my senses and dazzling my eyes.
Liszt felt at home composing music suitable for various cultural circles, Austro-Hungarian, French, German and Italian. This suggests that he saw himself as a European composer who did not restrict himself to poems in one single language for his songs. I think it is awe-inspiring to write songs in a second and third language that can convey a heightened musical interpretation whilst staying true to the poetry.
I would love to know what you think of when you listen to the song. What dreamy landscapes does it present to your imagination?