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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 7 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)

Arpège, Op 76 No 2
First line:
L’âme d’une flûte soupire
6 September 1897, published as Op 76 No 2, F sharp minor (original key E minor) 9/8 Andante quasi allegretto
author of text
Au jardin de l’Infante

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This is another poem from Albert Samain’s Au jardin de l’Infante. The song is Fauré’s final farewell to the courtly world of Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes – the park that is mentioned here with its ‘nymphs’ suggest an eighteenth-century landscape au clair de lune. Samain’s poem itself is part of a fantasy sequence (an extended Embarquement pour Cythère) which begins with a parody of Gautier’s Où voulez-vous aller?. Nocturne, the poem before Arpège, describes a ‘Fête à Bergame’ (the ‘bergamasque’, a dance that originated in Bergamo, appears in the Fauré/Verlaine Clair de lune) where ‘Lulli’ conducts an orchestra of strings and flutes. Lully wrote the original music for Le bourgeois gentilhomme (1670) and Arpège has a strong similarity to the Sérénade from Fauré’s music for the same Molière play (1893) – a 9/8 rhythm with skipping dotted rhythms, and similar trills and ornaments. Are these allusions meant to amuse Emma Bardac, fan of Samain’s poetry? The music for the first strophe in the minor key is elegant and deft, somewhat malign (for a ‘nuit de mensonge’); the second strophe recalls the barcarolle of the Venetian À Clymène (gondolas are a feature of this Samain fantasy sequence); the final verse in the major key is perhaps the most original with its sighing descents of triplets in octaves, music for a swoon, if not a Liebestod, compressed sequences of harmony in continual metamorphosis. The postlude, now in the major key, traverses the keyboard lightheartedly, bottom to top, as if to admit that the whole of this song has been nothing more than a jeu d’esprit at a fancy-dress ball.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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