About this work

Cécile Chaminade's Serenade espagnole dates from 1895, at which time Chaminade's star had risen to a point where she was considered the top woman composer in the world. Also known as Chanson espagnole, the work is, along with the Scarf Dance and The Flatterer, among her best-known pieces. Originally for piano solo, the serenade also had wide currency as an arrangement for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler.

Chaminade was a friend and admirer of George Bizet in her youth, and it is not too difficult to discern the flavor of Carmen in this charming little work. Brief and evocative, as is typical of beloved salon pieces from the era of homemade music, the serenade commences with a languid guitar-like accompaniment against which a Latin-infected folklike melody sings. The middle section escalates to the livelier tempo of a fandango until a brief cadenza ushers in a return to the sunny, somnolent ease of the opening. The work trails off, as though blissfully yielding to the lure of a siesta.