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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: 3 minutes 22 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)

Lydia, Op 4 No 2
c1870, Op 4 No 2, ‘À Mme Marie Trélat’, Hamelle: First Collection p32, G major (original key F major) 4/4 Andante
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Michael Schade (tenor), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançais
On the composer’s return to Paris after the upheavals of the Commune he heard Duparc’s new masterpiece L’invitation au voyage. That work is a turning point in French song; it also introduced Fauré to Baudelaire’s work and encouraged him to consider moving away from composing romances to the long poems of Hugo. Instead he began to tackle shorter poems by younger poets that had the power to create a more intense musical atmosphere. Leconte de Lisle’s Lydia (No XVII of the ‘Études latines’ section of his Poèmes antiques of 1852) was an ideal match with the composer’s new espousal of the mélodie. The simplicity of the music on the page belies a stunning new sophistication in Fauré’s approach. The vocal line is shadowed by the voice adding to the Attic purity of the evocation; the attenuated piano-writing avoids anything unseemly or immodest. An ancient Greek atmosphere is created partly by use of the Lydian mode, the sharpened fourth of the scale. This gentle exoticism adds to the music’s rarefied charm; it is as if we are breathing the air of Parnassus (the marvellous postlude dissolves into those ethereal regions more convincingly than the ascension depicted in Schubert’s Ganymed). At ‘tes baisers de colombe’ the undulating vocal line, accompanied by gently fluting thirds, is the most convincing illustration of cooing doves in all song. Dove imagery is welcomed; Leconte de Lisle’s description of Lydia’s neck being as ‘fresh and pale as milk’ is another matter! Confronted with the poet’s ‘Et sur ton col frais, et plus blanc / Que le lait’ Fauré, with devilish cunning, changes ‘plus’ to ‘si’ and simply leaves out ‘Que le lait’, allowing ‘blanc’ to link with the next verb ‘roule’. A piano interlude (bars 6 to 7) stands in for the judicious cut. If this song owes its existence to Duparc, that composer’s Phydilé was certainly inspired by Lydia, as was Chausson’s Hébé (all three song heroines were Leconte de Lisle’s Grecian nymphs).

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005
English: Hypérion

Other albums featuring this work
'Of ladies and love' (CDA67315)
Of ladies and love
MP3 £4.00FLAC £4.00ALAC £4.00Buy by post £10.50 CDA67315  Last few CD copies remaining   Download currently discounted

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