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Hyperion Records

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'Les Roses d'Ispahan' after Gabriel Fauré (c1907) by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer (1865-1953)
Sotheby’s Picture Library
Track(s) taken from CDA67336
Recording details: August 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2005
Total duration: 1 minutes 26 seconds

'There are songs of a fragrance, ambiguity and vision unique to Fauré and all the singers involved in this glorious project, while not always in their first radiance and purity of voice, never lose their sense of poetic engagement and commitment. Graham Johnson, whether writing or playing, is magically attuned to every nuance of Fauré's universe; and Hyperion's sound and presentation are impeccable' (Gramophone)

'This completes Hyperion's recording of all Fauré's songs master-minded by Graham Johnson with a quintet of specialist singers: Jennifer Smith, Felicity Lott, Geraldine McGreevy, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt and Stephen Varcoe, all in top form here … suffice it to say that this superb enterprise is a jewel in Hyperion's crown' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'The sound is warm and initimate and Johnson's comprehensive notes are packed with information on each song and its cultural surround. In all this series has proved an impressive achievement, demonstrating that even the least known of Fauré's songs is well worth hearing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'These four CDs deserve an honoured place in the collection of anyone who cares about one of the finest of all mélodistes' (International Record Review)

'There's an ineffable, nostalgia-filled sadness about Jennifer Smith's rapt delivery of the final two songs of La chanson d'Ève, the mood intensified as so often in this series by Graham Johnson's accompaniments. An outstanding disc' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Graham Johnson, whose sterling pianism distinguishes every track … his accompanimens are models of Fauréan discretion and care … Gabriel Fauré: The Complete Songs offers a vital contribution to the ongoing re-imagination of Fauré, as well as a splendid opportunity to become acquainted with his allusive art' (Nineteenth-Century Music Review)

First line:
L’aurore s’allume
c1870, A flat major (original key) 3/4 Allegretto, first published in 1954
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The poem is No XX of Hugo’s Chants du crépuscule. Fauré’s song is a simple ABA construction which allows the composer to set only the first three of the poet’s seventeen strophes. This is a late discovery for the public; it appeared in print sixty or so years after most of the other Hugo settings. The remaining two (Tristesse d’Olympio and Puisque j’ai mis ma lèvre) remain unpublished. Of these three Hugo orphans, L’aurore is the most memorable in melodic terms – indeed the tune, an unfurling of conjoined sequences, has an adorable simplicity; this is music as fresh and fragrant as the dawn it describes. In the ‘A’ section of the song the vocal line is steadfastly doubled by the piano – indeed the accompaniment could be played as a piano piece without sacrificing a note. There is a welcome divergence between voice and piano in the middle section where the accompaniment in throbbing mezzo staccato quavers remains in the treble clef for both hands. At the return of the main melody there is a hint of canonic imitation that is not followed through. If this is not the most sophisticated of songs (the composer himself, in not publishing it, was clearly less than satisfied) it has a classical poise that seems to prepare the way for Lydia and the other Leconte de Lisle settings.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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