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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: 3 minutes 15 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)

Les roses d'Ispahan, Op 39 No 4
June (?) 1884, published as Op 39 No 4, E major (original key D major) 2/4 Andantino
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This is among the most sensual and erotic, even decadent, of Fauré’s mélodies. Jankélévitch judges its self-consciousness as unworthy of the real Fauré, but the musical public has always adored its highly perfumed sumptuousness. If this suggests a seraglio draped in the opulent Parisian style of the 1880s, the zeitgeist is partly to blame: Huysmans’s À rebours appeared alongside Leconte de Lisle’s Poèmes tragiques in 1884. There is a unique undulation to this music that is partly created by a counter-melody, like a third voice, between the thumbs of the accompanist’s hands. This gait, leisurely and majestic, varied by occasional rhythmic displacements, suggests heavily loaded camels swaying across the desert sands (cf Chausson’s La caravane, 1887). Every kind of rare perfume is for sale here, but nothing can match the fragrance of the absent Leilah. The song’s journey is suddenly interrupted by a personal aside: we had been expecting another appearance of the sinuous and hypnotic refrain (and indeed the song closes with this music), but with ‘Ô Leïlah!’ there is a sudden outburst; the lack of a preceding interlude makes it seem spontaneous, unplanned. This middle strophe alone, one of Fauré’s most heartfelt utterances, saves the song from relegation into the ranks of that overpopulated genre in French music, the oriental pastiche. The poem has six verses of which the composer sets 1,2, 4 and 6.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

Other albums featuring this work
'Fauré: La chanson d'Ève & other songs' (CDA66320)
Fauré: La chanson d'Ève & other songs
'My Garden' (CDA66937)
My Garden

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