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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 28 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)

La rose 'Ode anacréontique', Op 51 No 4
First line:
Je dirai la rose aux plis gracieux
August 1890, published as Op 51 No 4, F major (original key) 3/4 Andante
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This song is as significant a piece in the third recueil as is Lydia, by the same poet, in the first. Leconte de Lisle’s ode (Poèmes et poésies) was already thirty-five years old, but the composer makes it sound almost as fresh as the day it was written. He clearly admired the gardener in this Parnasse whose roses from Isfahan and Lahore he also set. This prize-winning specimen however is from Delos, and it inspires Fauré to a very personal response; he relaxes the poet’s majestic and statuesque pose (très 1855) with music that remains fresh and natural, despite the mythological references. There are no separate strophes in this poem, and the composer only allows himself a brief piano interlude before the fourteenth line. Apart from this respite, voice and piano flower together in a texture that, if not exactly overgrown, signifies profusion and effulgence: this is no single rose but an overgrown hillside where the passer-by is overwhelmed by the flowers’ scent. Constantly changing harmonies (on a row of descending basses with mixolydian colourings) are meant to delight but, as in La bonne chanson, the ear is in danger of being unsettled by too much diversity; nevertheless, the listener’s attention is held by the freshness and impetus of the music. The apotheosis-like final page incorporates the grandeur of Zeus without obliterating the slender grace of the flower. The postlude, like that for Schubert’s Ganymed, restores classical poise in the wake of heavenly upheaval.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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