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Track(s) taken from CDA67333

Au cimetière, Op 51 No 2

First line:
Heureux qui meurt ici
composer
1888, Op 51 No 2, ‘À Madame Maurice Sulzbach’, Hamelle: Third Collection p8, E minor (original key) 3/4 Andante
author of text

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), 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: 3 minutes 38 seconds
 
1

Other recordings available for download

Sarah Walker (mezzo-soprano), Roger Vignoles (piano)

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)
Like Les berceaux this is a poem that compares life at sea with life on dry land, or rather, in this case, death at sea with a decent Christian burial. Jean Richepin’s poem is taken from his bulky collection of often melodramatic verse entitled La mer; the subsection is entitled Les gas – ‘The chaps’, the sailors. The outer strophes are set in a cemetery. The initial peacefulness of this evocation precedes the savage contrast of music for victims of wave and storm. A mood of rarefied simplicity (the Requiem is a contemporary work) depicts the poet’s thoughts on hallowed ground. The modal purity of these chordal progressions shines out with rare conviction. In Fauré’s songs, accompanying chords such as these often embark on complicated harmonic journeys; their rhythm is plain and undemonstrative, yet the effect, as here, is poignant and noble in its understatement. At the end of the poem’s fourth strophe a huge crescendo in the tonic key (in this case E minor, despite the misleading printing of the song a tone lower in Hamelle) plunges the mood into bitterness with amazing speed. All hell now breaks loose with a merciless chromatic tightening, a tidal wave of anguish in a dangerous tessitura. Left-hand triplets smash like breakers on to the second beats of the bar, the buffeting of a gigantic storm at sea. At the frightening image of ‘Et les yeux grands ouverts’ the accompaniment drifts like a body sinking to the depths. In a typically Fauréan ellipsis, as neat and almost as sudden as a change of shot in the cinema, we return to the safety of the churchyard and a recapitulation of the first verse. It is printed thus in Richepin’s poem, but Fauré, wishing to round out the musical shape in binary form, repeats the poet’s second strophe also.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

Comme Les berceaux, ce poème compare la vie en mer avec la vie sur la terre ferme, ou plutôt, en l’occurrence, la mort en mer avec une inhumation chrétienne décente. Ce texte est extrait de La mer (volumineux recueil en vers, souvent mélodramatique, de Jean Richepin), et plus précisément d’une sous-section intitulée Les gas – les marins. Les strophes extrêmes se déroulent dans un cimetière. La tranquillité première de cette évocation précède le contraste sauvage de la musique dédiée aux victimes des flots et des tempêtes. Une atmosphère de simplicité épurée (le Requiem est contemporain) figure les considérations du poète sur la terre bénie, et la pureté modale de ces progressions en accords rayonne avec une rare conviction. Dans les mélodies fauréennes, ce genre d’accords accompagnants s’embarquent souvent dans des voyages harmoniques complexes; leur rythme est simple et peu démonstratif, pour un effet malgré tout poignant et noble dans sa minimisation, comme ici. À la fin de la quatrième strophe du poème, un immense crescendo à la tonique (dans le cas présent, mi mineur, malgré l’impression fallacieuse de la mélodie, un ton plus bas, dans la version de Hamelle) précipite l’ambiance dans l’amertume à une vitesse étonnante. Voilà que ça barde, maintenant, avec un impitoyable resserrement chromatique, un raz de marée d’angoisse dans une tessiture dangereuse. Des triolets à la main gauche se fracassent, tels des brisants, sur les deuxièmes temps de la mesure – l’assaut d’une gigantesque tempête en mer. À l’effrayante image de «Et les yeux grands ouverts», l’accompagnement dérive tel un corps sombrant dans les profondeurs. Puis, en une ellipse toute fauréenne, aussi précise et presque aussi soudaine qu’un changement de plan au cinéma, nous retrouvons la sécurité du cimetière et une reprise de la première strophe. Du moins en est-il ainsi dans le poème de Richepin, car Fauré, désireux de terminer la structure musicale en forme binaire, répète aussi la deuxième strophe du poète.

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

Other albums featuring this work

The Sea
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