There is wisdom to be found in the hallowed halls of the blight upon all musical sensibility known as Prog Rock, and that wisdom is this: we don't listen to this stuff for the lyrics. And just as well, because if we did then we'd never listen to this exquisite little tune ever again, no matter that the choir is an optional extra whose presence was just a sop to impress his patron. When Elisabeth, Comtesse Greffulhe heard what the composer had produced in her dedication, one has to assume that the look on her face suggested that she was after something a tad more enormous, hence the choir.
Sadly, what Gabriel Fauré gained on the musical swings he soon lost it on the lyrical roundabouts. The lyrics were supplied by Elisabeth's cousin Robert de Montesquiou whose grasp on poetry was so tenuous that one could forgive someone for thinking he was the progenitor of the David Bowie school of cutting up the lyrics, throwing them in the air and seeing where they land school of lyricism. Tragic garbage about beating back the fates of love and dispersing the mocking demons of Myrtille, Eglé and Chloé (whoever they may be) abounds. In case you don't believe me, here you are:
It's Lindor! It's Tircis! and all our vanquishers! It's Myrtil! It's Lydia! The queens of our hearts! How they provoke us! How they are always so proud! How they dare to control our destinies and our days! Pay attention! Observe the beat! O the mortal injury! The cadence is slower! The fall more certain! We shall beat back their cackles! We will soon be their stooges! They are so ugly! Such darling little faces! They are so foolish! Such coquettish airs! And it's always the same, and so it shall always be! We love them! We hate them! We speak ill of their loves! Farewell, Myrtil! Egle! Chloe! mocking demons! So it is farewell and good day to the tyrants of our hearts! And good day!
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
Why did he let this happen? Because, as with another French composer discussed elsewhere, Fauré thought the tune an inconsequential bit of fluff that might be forgotten as soon as it was heard. How wrong he was. He might be remembered for some other weightier works, but the miracle of the melody in this tune is such that every last man you see in the street knows it and would probably be able to whistle it.
Such was the popularity of the piece that the world promptly went Pavane-mad - a Pavane being an elegant processional dance mostly found around the Iberian peninsula in the 16th Century. Ravel came up with two of his own and Debussy weighed in with another. Well okay..maybe not exactly Pavane-mad but certainly slightly enthusiastic.
Lots of Mellotron voices on this one, including some thundering church organ on the bottom end of the strong string lines played on the Angry Strings, though to be fair I detuned the organ enough to get the resonant bottom C in on the act.
Instrumentation: Mellotron Mk V Playing
FLAC version here.