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Track(s) taken from CDA67141/2

D'une prison

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

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: December 1995
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown & Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: June 1996
Total duration: 2 minutes 41 seconds

Cover artwork: Two Angels (c1870) by Charles Sellier (1830-1882)
 
1

Other recordings available for download

Martyn Hill (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)

Reviews

'What treasures are here … the two discs provide an unmissable opportunity to explore a composer who is underrated and overlooked perhaps because he was too modest about himself. There are melodies here which Massenet, Debussy, Fauré and Ravel would have been proud to call their own. No one can fail to have their musical horizon broadened by these discs, which will assuredly come high among my Records of the Year, any year … these discs have given me as much pleasure as any I have heard this year … to hear Felicity Lott in Les étoiles, Susan Bickley in Offrande and Ian Bostridge in Tyndaris is to relish some of the most accomplished vocal artistry of the day' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Some fascinating rarities' (Gramophone)

'To wonderful songs … [the artists] bring delicacy, grace, an emotion the more poignant for being understated … Not to be missed' (The Observer)

'This gorgeous set … Irresistible' (The Sunday Times)

'This is music for the intellect, interpreted with the utmost sensitivity' (Hi-Fi News)

'Ces chanteurs brittaniques interprètent ces petits bijoux avec soin touchant. Par la qualité du phrasé, ils lui restituent sa qualité essentielle, le sens du mot et de la ligne mélodique' (Répertoire, France)

'Graham Johnson choisir ses chanteurs qui possèdent une musicalité irréprochable et un français non seulement intelligible mais évocateur—et de les accompanger avec tant de poésie' (Diapason, France)
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: Chansons grises & other songs
CDH55040
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