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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 7 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)

Sérénade toscane, Op 3 No 2
First line:
Ô toi que berce un rêve enchanteur
c1878, Op 3 No 2, ‘À Mme la baronne de Montagnac, née de Rosalès’, Hamelle: First Collection p22; C minor (original key B flat minor) 9/8 Andante con moto quasi Allegretto
author of text
after an anonymous Tuscan poet

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The French poem is a much closer rendition of the Tuscan original than Après un rêve. Once again the source is Tommaseo’s Canti popolari. Bussine has cobbled together no fewer than three separate Italian rispetti from this collection in order to complete Fauré’s serenade. For the song’s first two verses the Italian source (‘Altre Serenate’: 12) begins:

O tu che dormi e riposata stai
N testò bel letto senza pensimento [penzamento],
Risvegliati un pochino, è sentirai
Tuo servo che per te fa un gran lamento …

The Italian sources for the remaining strophes of Bussine’s poem-translation are to be found three pages further on in Canti popolari, a combination of ‘Fine della Serenata’: 2 (‘Non posso più cantar … Stanotte son dormito al ciel sereno’) and ‘Fine della Serenata’: 3 (‘Non posso più cantar, che non ho voce / E m’entra in bocca, e non mi lassa dire’ …). It was this last poem which was Paul Heyse’s source for the German translation ‘Nicht länger kann ich singen’, set to music by Hugo Wolf as No 42 of his Italienisches Liederbuch (1896). The Wolf song is richly comic but there is nothing amusing about Fauré’s, even if a confession of vocal limitations (‘che non ho voce’ or ‘ma voix expire’) is rare in an Italian song. The initial climb of the vocal line, followed by a fall in gradual stages, is another example of the ‘Viardot motif’ identified by Nectoux. The music is even more refined than the much earlier Barcarolle with a similarly languid and luscious entwining of voice and piano. In Barcarolle the governing rhythm is that of an oar plying through the Venetian lagoon; this song, like all serenades worthy of the name, is accompanied by one version or other of those gently strummed chords which are a pianistic stand-in for lute or guitar. The original key is B flat minor; as is the greatest of all serenades in that tonality – Clair de lune.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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