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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67333
Recording details: January 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2005
Total duration: 1 minutes 26 seconds

'Hyperion's sound is impeccable and in both his playing and accompanying essay, Graham Johnson penetrates to the heart of one of music's most subtle and enigmatic geniuses' (Gramophone)

'There can be nothing but praise for Johnson's pianism and his selection and arrangement of the songs. Volumes 3 and 4 are eagerly awaited' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Johnson's own fluent playing finds the right tempo for each song, and his booklet notes are invaluable. Those who already love a handful of Fauré's songs will make many worthwhile discoveries here' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It sounds as if Hyperion is inviting us to embark on what will become a deeply satisfying voyage' (International Record Review)

'A dozen individual songs on aqueous themes are shared by a distinguished line-up of mostly British singers. As ever in Hyperion's song surveys, the piano accompaniments and the written documentation are immaculately presented by Graham Johnson' (The Guardian)

'Johnson's vignette-studded notes, encompassing the poems with idiomatic translations, make a consistently engaging cornucopia worth at least the price of admission and whose wide-ranging erudition will afford surprises even to close students of the period' (Fanfare, USA)

Les matelots, Op 2 No 2
First line:
Sur l’eau bleue et profonde
c1870, Op 2 No 2, ‘À Madame Edouard Lalo’, Hamelle: First Collection p15, E flat major (original key) 3/4 Tempo animato quasi Allegro
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
This is a song of transition as Fauré’s early romance style begins to merge with the greater depths of the mélodie. The music seems influenced by Soirée en mer (1862), a Victor Hugo setting by Fauré’s teacher, Camille Saint-Saëns. Les matelots is more vigorous, but both songs are powered by undulating triplets which reflect the fathomless motion of the sea. The subtle, and sometimes unexpected, harmonic shadings in these restless quavers enliven the potential monotony of the accompaniment; in this roving harmony we can savour the sailors’ love of adventurous exploration. As each strophe progresses towards its vocal climax the bass line falls in steps, widening the distance between the piano’s left hand and the vocal line. This depicts the breadth of vast nautical horizons with a musical grandeur that effectively outfaces the sentimentality of the text. The poem is from Théophile Gautier’s Poésies nouvelles (1845). The composer, already merciless in terms of adapting poetry to his musical needs, cuts the second and fourth of Gautier’s strophes.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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