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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: 2 minutes 59 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)

Le pays des rêves, Op 39 No 3
First line:
Veux-tu qu’au beau pays des rêves
composer
30 May 1884, published as Op 39 No 3, A flat major (original key) 12/8 Andante quasi allegretto
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This song’s beckonings correspond to Gounod’s Où voulez-vous aller? or Duparc’s L’invitation au voyage. In Silvestre’s collection, Les ailes d’or, the second half of the poem is a Baudelaire-like sequel personifying the ominous dreams of the past. But there is nothing disturbing here, and the music rocks us gently, benignly, into the stratosphere. We wander high above the world’s gardens and the fragrance of jasmine. There are passages in this song where the musical discourse wanders into the indeterminate ether in a manner of which no other French composer of the time was capable. Fauré’s harmonic excursions are usually underpinned by strong bass lines, but here, as in another Silvestre setting, La fée aux chansons, the composer abandons the F clef for much of the time in favour of higher, more etiolated regions. There are delicious ambiguities here, for example the pivotal role played by E flat (D sharp) in the keys of A flat major (dominant) and E minor (leading note). Jankélévitch hears similarities with Wolf’s An eine Äolsharfe composed only four years later. The two songs share a berceuse rhythm and an other-worldly evanescence, but Silvestre is clearly no Mörike, and it is Fauré’s harmonic refinement that disguises his poet’s sentimental streak.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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