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Track(s) taken from CDA67334

Mai, Op 1 No 2

First line:
Puisque mai tout en fleurs dans les prés nous réclame
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

Graham Johnson (piano), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor)
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)
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

Cette pièce est l’une des six mélodies que Fauré, encore inscrit à l’école Niedermeyer sous la tutelle de Saint-Saëns, proposa à l’éditeur Choudens dès 1864. Toutes étaient sur des textes de Victor Hugo: Le papillon et la fleur, Mai, S’il est un charmant gazon (intitulée Rêve d’amour), Puisqu’ici-bas toute âme, L’aube naît et Puisque j’ai mis ma lèvre. Seule L’aube naît ne vit, en définitive – et malgré son titre –, jamais le jour. Cette aventure éditoriale resta lettre morte, bien que le grand poète (encore en exil) fût consulté sur ses espérances financières quant à d’éventuels droits d’auteur.

En 1910, Fauré avoua n’avoir jamais réussi une seule mise en musique satisfaisante des poèmes de Hugo; cette petite mélodie n’en est pas moins une charmeuse, comme nombre des autres mélodies sur des textes hugoliens. Ici, l’accompagnement n’a pas grand rôle à jouer, mais la mélodie recèle fraîcheur et sincérité, ainsi qu’une denrée rare, une intimité d’expression où Fauré, qui était de la petite bière à l’époque du grand Meyerbeer, débute sa carrière comme il entend la poursuivre. La cadence sur «et l’horizon immense», chagrine et tendre, est une phrase délicieusement troussée, mais qui ne fait pas le poids face à l’ampleur voulue du poète. Cette musique nous montre clairement où vont les sympathies du jeune compositeur – vers Gounod, ce grand orfèvre de la mélodie, plus que vers Berlioz. (Le manque d’enthousiasme de Fauré pour ce dernier allait d’ailleurs être une sempiternelle pomme de discorde avec son maître Saint-Saëns.)

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 2005
Français: Hypérion

Other albums featuring this work

Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1
This album is not yet available for downloadSIGCD427Download only 17 June 2016 Release
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