Ravel’s Trois Chansons, published in 1916, combine pastoral naivety and worldly cynism. The third song offers the kind of sparkling wordplay we find in Costeley or Janequin, and only the second one makes reference to the war. Ravel dedicated it to his friend, the cabinet minister Paul Painlevé, whose help he had tried to enlist in getting into the French Air Force and who can hardly have failed to understand the message. No doubt he also relished the double entendre in the last line: “emportez-le aussi.” But Ravel for once overplayed his hand. He could have presented no more convincing proof of the need to keep him alive.

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