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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 38 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)

Nocturne, Op 43 No 2
First line:
La nuit sur le grand mystère
1886, published as Op 43 No 2, E flat major (original key) 3/4 Andante
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This beautiful song, one of two settings from Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s mainly prose collection Contes cruels (1883), deserves to be sung more often. It can boast neither an exceptional melody, nor a chance for a singer to make a dramatic impression. But it does conjure a mood of infinite peace and calm, the composer’s own ‘calme, luxe et volupté’. The poet’s title, Éblouissement, implies a dazzling sight, exclamation marks (omitted by the composer) betokening a heady enthusiasm. Fauré is far more en sourdine; his heading, Nocturne (he had already written his first five nocturnes for piano) prepares us better for the languid unfolding of this music in a muted tessitura. At the moments when the 3/4 rhythm gives way to a rocking 6/8 one might even think of a berceuse. The form is essentially AAB. In the first two strophes the home key of E flat is reached relatively easily after momentary excursions into E flat minor and G flat major. The third strophe is more exploratory and takes us on a more restless tonal journey; we reach E flat major at the end but only after an unexpected detour into G minor for the word ‘beauté!’. If the poet rejoices in the possession of his beloved, the composer mourns her unavailability with only a momentary loss of composure.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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