Nuits d’été – song cycle, op. 7

1. Villanelle; 2. Spectre de la Rose; 3. Sur les Lagunes – Lamento; 4. Absence; 5. Au cimetičre – Claire de lune; 6. L'île inconnu


Berlioz composed these six songs to verses by Théophile Gautier between 1838 and 1841. The title for the cycle is Berlioz's own, perhaps inspired by Donizetti's popular “Summer nights of Posilippo”, or Musset's volume “Les Nuits” or even the French title for Midsummer Night's Dream (%u201CSonge d'une nuit d'été”). Originally written for piano accompaniment, Berlioz orchestrated them between 1843 and 1856. The six songs of Nuits d'été can also be performed separately. Berlioz conceived them for different voices (baritone, tenor, alto or mezzo soprano) and the planned tonal scheme apparent in the original piano version was sacrificed when Berlioz, the supreme master of orchestral colour, took over.


 Villanelle is a simple, strophic, sprightly spring song, with a blackbird, a secretive rabbit, a deer quenching its thirst at a spring and a pair of lovers, who return back to the town on a mule carrying a loaded basket.
Spectre de la Rose is a confessional musical revelation of a poetic image. The rose evokes an evening, a ball, where the beloved, wearing a rose, rises up from among the swirling dancers: %u201COpen your closed eyelid / which is gently brushed by a virginal dream! / I am the ghost of the rose / that you wore last night at the ball.”


 The next song Sur les Lagunes take a verse in which Gautier recalls the memory of a deceased lover. The pathos of the declamatory lament and the dark undulations of the orchestral accompaniment determine the song's basic mood. The song tries again and again to rise up from this world of feeling but the refrain (“How bitter is my fate! To go to sea without my love, Oh!”) manages to puncture this endeavour again and again.


 Absence is a melancholic expression of a confrontation with solitude and mortality. “Like a flower far from the sun / The flower of my life is closed ! / Far from your smiling ruby lips!” The final appearance of this refrain is marked “half  voice and with exhaustion” (sotto voce ed estinto)
 The fifth song in the set, Au cimetičre – Claire de lune (“In the cemetry – Moonlight”) has a haunted mood. The moon light breaking through the foliage eerily illuminates the tombstones, a white shrouded shadow emerges from the grave. In its arms is a corpse, while on the mound a dove sings … “A charming but baleful song.”
 The final song, L'île inconnu  (The unknown island) is a fairytale caprice, the music of dreams and fairies, the mood and colour of which is continued in the much later work of Debussy and Ravel.

100 évesek vagyunk