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Luca Casagrande – “L’ile inconnue” – “Le Nuits d’Eté” – H. Berlioz (1803 – 1869). 1841 version for baritone voice and piano.

by Luca

“Les Nuits d’été” (“Summer Nights”), Op. 7, is a song cycle by Hector Berlioz. It is a setting of six poems by Théophile Gautier. The collection was completed in 1841, and initially composed for either baritone, contralto, or mezzo-soprano, and piano. Berlioz later adapted the work for soprano voice, and also gave it full orchestral accompaniment in 1856; almost all modern performances of the piece use the orchestral rather than the piano version.
The title of the song collection is a nod to the French title of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Berlioz’s beloved Shakespeare.
At first Berlioz had difficulty in deciding on a suitable order for the songs, but he finally settled on the following sequence, which is generally used for performances today, and which places the two liveliest movements at either end:
Le spectre de la rose
Sur les lagunes
Au cimetière
L’île inconnue