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Track(s) taken from CDA67333

Seule!, Op 3 No 1

First line:
Dans un baiser, l’onde au rivage
composer
1871, Op 3 No 1, ‘À Monsieur E Fernier’, Hamelle: First Collection p19, E minor (original key) 4/4 Andante
author of text

Jennifer Smith (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
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: 2 minutes 47 seconds
 
1

Reviews

'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)
This is Gautier (the Poésies nouvelles again) in the Dardanelles and ‘au bord de l’eau’. The poem has no heading but Fauré changes the poet’s own adjectival ‘seul’ in the second strophe to the feminine ‘seule’ and uses this, together with a dramatic exclamation mark, as his title. The imposing classical economy and severity of the music, and its musically appointed feminine narrator, cannot help but bring to mind that most famous of mourners who waited in vain for a sign of life from the Hellespont – Hero, priestess of Aphrodite, whose lover Leander had drowned there. In order to visit Hero, Leander had nightly swum the four miles (Byron measured the distance by setting himself the same challenge) between Sestos and Abydos. Before committing suicide Hero lamented Leander’s death – perhaps in words like these. Gautier’s visit to Constantinople in 1852 accounts for a reference in the second strophe to the basilica of Saint Sophia, admittedly an anachronism had any classical allusion been intended. But if the poem has set Fauré thinking of this episode in Greek mythology one might opine that this was his first classically inspired song. France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, and the ensuing chaos of the Commune, began a new chapter in French music; the contemporary example of Duparc’s L’invitation au voyage seems to have given Fauré confidence to write songs in the grand manner. This is his first in the minor key, and the composer no longer strives automatically for a salon-pleasing charm. The music gives the impression of being an obsessive passacaglia punctuated by tolling right-hand octaves.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

Où nous retrouvons Gautier (toujours les Poésies nouvelles) dans les Dardanelles et «au bord de l’eau». Le poème est sans titre, mai Fauré change le «seul» adjectival de la deuxième strophe en un «seule» féminisé qu’il utilise comme titre, non sans l’avoir assorti d’un théâtral point d’exclamation. L’impressionnante économie classique et l’austérité de la musique, ajoutées à la présence d’un narrateur féminin musicalement désigné, ne peuvent qu’éveiller en nous le souvenir de la plus célèbre éplorée: Héro, prêtresse d’Aphrodite, qui attendit en vain, depuis l’Hellespont, un signe de vie – son amoureux Léandre s’était noyé là en voulant la rejoindre, en tentant de parcourir de nuit, à la nage, les sept kilomètres (Byron mesura la distance en relevant personnellement le même défi) qui séparaient Sestos d’Abydos. Avant de se suicider, Héro pleura la mort de Léandre, peut-être en des termes semblables à ceux du poème. Le séjour de Gautier à Constantinople, en 1852, explique la référence (deuxième strophe) à la basilique Sainte-Sophie, référence qui serait un indéniable anachronisme si le poète avait voulu une quelconque allusion classique. Mais si le poème a bel et bien suscité en Fauré cet épisode de la mythologie grecque, force est de remarquer que Seule! fut sa première mélodie d’inspiration classique. La défaite française face à la Prusse, et le chaos de la Commune qui s’ensuivit, marquèrent le début d’un nouveau chapitre dans l’histoire de la musique française; la contemporaine L’invitation au voyage de Duparc semble avoir insufflé à Fauré l’assurance nécessaire à une écriture mélodique grandiose. Seule! est sa première mélodie en mode mineur, et il ne recherche plus systématiquement le charme qui plaît dans les salons. La musique donne l’impression d’une passacaille obsessionnelle ponctuée de résonnantes octaves à la main droite.

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 2005
Français: Hypérion

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