Le chant des Bretons, Op. 13, No. 5
Length: 2 minutes
In addition to Les nuits d'été, Berlioz composed a fair number of songs. His numbers don't come close to matching Schubert or Schumann, but his Mélodies and Chansons (the French equivalents for Lieder) reveal a composer as sensitive to the nuances of poetry as his more prolific German counterparts.
He originally composed "Le chant des Bretons" (The Song of the Bretons) for chorus; the version for voice and piano soon followed, and the work was published in 1835. He later revised it and included it in the 1850 collection entitled Fleurs des landes (Flowers of the Moors). The text, taken from the poet Auguste Brizeux's 1831 collection Marie, inspired Berlioz to rousing music that only abandons its heroic tone for a moment of introspective serenity in the second stanza's line beginning "Nous adorons Jésus." In the song, we get a boiled-down version of Berlioz the composer of large-scale nationalist works celebrating France's Second Empire, rarely-heard pieces like the Hymne à la France and the cantata L'impériale.
-- John Mangum holds a Ph.D. in history from UCLA and is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Program Designer/Annotator.