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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 31 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)

Ici-bas!, Op 8 No 3
First line:
Ici-bas tous les lilas meurent
1874 (?), published as Op 8 No 3, F sharp minor (original key) 2/4 Andantino
author of text
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
At this time the public could not get enough of the songs of Massenet. His ‘affected listlessness’ (Noske) is here emulated by Fauré, as it was to be copied by Debussy in the early 1880s. A languid little vocal melody, almost parlando, is borne along by gently undulating semiquavers that, in true Massenet fashion, owe something to Schumann’s Dichterliebe. The first two strophes are identical, but the vocal line of the third is tinged by the major key and becomes gradually animated (via throbbing syncopations in the bass). There is a forte climax on the third page (more suited to the musical structure than the words) where desperation, and the singer’s top, are simultaneously revealed. A decrescendo and coda return to gentle ennui. Years later, Reynaldo Hahn, pupil of Massenet, loved to write songs like this where a change in the final strophe (often an exquisite pay-off) crowns an expanse of murmuring inactivity (L’heure exquise, L’infidélité). Fauré, however, quickly moved away from a formula that sounds fin de siècle before its time.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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