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Track(s) taken from CDH55040

D'une prison

First line:
Le ciel est, par-dessus le toit
composer
author of text

Martyn Hill (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: December 1981
Art Workers Guild, Queen Square, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: May 1988
Total duration: 2 minutes 41 seconds
 
1

Other recordings available for download

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)

Reviews

'Martyn Hill’s tenor is perfectly suited to Hahn’s deliciously sentimental idiom…Most of the settings on the disc are to texts by his favourite Verlaine, including the seven Chansons grises. Hahn gages the level of sensuality perfectly, allowing the words to make their point rather than making the point on their behalf, and Hill and his accompanist Johnson relax wonderfully into this rather enticing world' (BBC Music Magazine)
D’une prison was composed in 1892. Fauré’s immortal setting of this poem (Prison) was not published until 1896, so we cannot blame Hahn for lèse-majesté in deciding to set it. The Fauré song contains all the pent-up anguish and regret which is missing here. Instead of a man who sees his life ruined we have the gentle and regretful musings of a gentleman (or a lady) temporarily down on his luck. We can be sure that these thoughts of a misspent youth are accompanied by a gentle spiral of cigarette smoke floating upwards. The oscillations of the accompaniment cleverly suggest not only the slow passing of time (a musical version of a very smooth ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’) but the type of suspended animation felt by the prisoner when he is ‘doing time’. One could argue, pace Fauré, that Hahn saw the words ‘si bleu, si calme’ as the key to the song’s mood. Provided one wishes to be ravished rather than have one’s withers wrung, the song is a fine one, and has long been a favourite with the public. This musical haze which softens the text from tragedy into gentle melancholy has something in common with Vaughan Williams’s setting, The sky above the roof, which dates from 1908.

from notes by Graham Johnson 1996

Other albums featuring this work

Hahn: Songs
CDA67141/22CDs
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