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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67334
Recording details: August 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Release date: April 2005
Total duration: 2 minutes 18 seconds

'All the singers involved in this ideally presented and recorded offering perform with a special ardour and commitment and Graham Johnson is, as always, a matchless partner and commentator. I can scarcely wait for Volume 3' (Gramophone)

'There can be nothing but praise for Johnson's pianism and his selection and arrangement of the songs. Volumes 3 and 4 are eagerly awaited' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'The chronological placement of songs within the programme highlights the composer's development and the quality and variety of Fauré's achievement shine through. As well as providing his usual comprehensive notes, Johnson is as ever a perceptive accompanist' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The discreet but authoritative Graham Johnson has masterminded a pleasing sequence of more than two dozen songs shared among eight singers. For my money, the soprano Geraldine McGreevy is the star of the enterprise. The way she adjusts her tone colour—indeed, her whole musical personality—between songs, is often remarkable … Johnson's annotations are both erudite and valuable as listening aids' (The Independent)

'As before, Johnson's notes are a model of what's required, whether you are an adept in Fauré's mélodies or a newcomer. They are stylish, informative and suffused with his passion for this music. Then there's his own artistry, authoritative but never overbearing' (International Record Review)

Mai, Op 1 No 2
First line:
Puisque mai tout en fleurs dans les prés nous réclame
composer
c1862, Op 1 No 2, ‘À Madame Henri Garnier’, Hamelle: First Collection p5, G major (original key F major) 3/4 Allegretto
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This was among the six songs that Fauré, while still enrolled as a pupil at the École Niedermeyer under the tutelage of Saint-Saëns, offered to the publisher Choudens as early as 1864. These were all to Hugo texts: Le papillon et la fleur, Mai, S’il est un charmant gazon (which bears the title Rêve d’amour), Puisqu’ici-bas toute âme, L’aube naît and Puisque j’ai mis ma lèvre. Only L’aube naît, despite its name, never saw the light of day. This publishing venture came to nothing although the great poet (still in exile) was consulted over his financial expectations regarding prospective royalties.

In 1910 Fauré confessed that he had never set Hugo successfully, but this little song is a charmer nevertheless, as are many of the other Hugo mélodies. The accompaniment has no important role to play here, but the melody has a freshness and sincerity. There is also a rare commodity – an intimacy of expression where Fauré, small beer in the age of the greater Meyerbeer, starts his career in the way he means to continue. The cadence on ‘et l’horizon immense’ is rueful and tender; this is a delightfully turned phrase, but no match for the intended breadth of the poet’s imagery. This music shows us clearly where the young composer’s sympathies lie – with that great tunesmith Gounod, rather than with Berlioz. (Fauré’s lack of enthusiasm for the latter composer was to be a bone of contention between him and his teacher Saint-Saëns for the rest of his life.)

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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