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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: 23 minutes 11 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 chanson d'Ève, Op 95
1906–1910, published as Op 95
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançais
‘Nothing equals the purity, the grandeur, the chastity of La chanson d’Ève, this Bonne chanson of the golden age’ (Vladimir Jankélévitch).

This substantial work by Charles Van Lerberghe appeared in 1904 and is dedicated to Émile Verhaeren. Fauré’s friend Alfred Mockel introduced the composer to this poetry which attracted him immediately. The work contains ninety-six poems and is divided into five sections: Fauré passes over the Prélude and begins his cycle with the first poem of Premières paroles (3), followed by 8, 7, 12, 16, 22 from the same section. (It is clear that the wonder of the Creation and the garden of Eden interest Fauré far more than Eve’s fall from grace.) There is a single poem from La tentation (39) before a return to Premières paroles (29). The eighteen poems of La faute are ignored entirely. The cycle ends with poems 86 and 94 (the third to last poem) from Crépuscule which the composer also adopts as the title of the penultimate song; thus Fauré’s cycle follows Van Lerberghe’s chronology only to a generalized extent; it skims the surface of the poet’s portrait of Eve while deepening it with matchless music. The opening lines of the poems are their only titles, thus Paradis, Prima verba and Eau vivante are Fauré’s own.

In motivic terms La chanson d’Ève is a less complex composition than La bonne chanson with its five recurring themes. In other ways, despite the fact that the music seems far less dense on the page, the later cycle is far more ambitious. Fauré, not yet as old as Haydn when he wrote Die Schöpfung, undertakes nothing less than a ‘Creation’ of his own. Eve is a cosmic figure, the grandest protagonist in any of the female song cycles; and we hear the voice of God Himself, a unique event in the song repertoire. So absorbing is this picture that the absence of Adam (from Fauré’s scenario at least) seems hardly worthy of comment.

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

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