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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 50 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)

Tristesse, Op 6 No 2
First line:
Avril est de retour
composer
c1873, Op 6 No 2, ‘À Mme Edouard Lalo’, Hamelle: First Collection p56, D minor (original key C minor) 6/8 Andante
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The 6/8 rhythm sounds like a waltz to the innocent ear; there is a catchiness to this music and a very Parisian atmosphere. Of all Fauré’s mélodies it is this which most captures a mood of popular song. There is a touch of Poulencian cross-over here (one thinks of that composer’s La grenouillère) but Tristesse was written some twenty, or even thirty, years too early for any link with cabaret to be intentional. Nevertheless, one might easily imagine an accordion accompaniment, the refrain which ends each strophe (‘Hélas! j’ai dans le cœur une tristesse affreuse’) sung by Trénet or Piaf, the guttural ‘r’ in ‘affreuse’ rolled deep in the throat. Nectoux refers to the ‘painful melodrama’ of this phrase, and it is true that music like this, relentlessly accented by the down-beats of the accompaniment, falls short of the Fauréan ideal of understatement and restraint. The poem’s provenance is exalted – Gautier’s seminal La comédie de la mort (1838), a work which pre-dates the grands boulevards which the words seem to describe, and also the source of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été. It is thus a surprise to find the composer treating the prosody with such casualness: one need go no further than the very first word (‘Avril’) to encounter the musical accent on the first, rather than the second, syllable. This displacement further creates an impression of Parisian nonchalance, as do references to drinkers with their ‘chansons vermeilles’, and girls in ‘scanty white dresses’. Fauré again gets away with the introduction of the word ‘chien’ into his music.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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