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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: 12 minutes 27 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)

Cinq Mélodies «de Venise», Op 58
1891, Op 58, «À Madame la Princesse Edmond de Polignac»
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
Massenet had composed a Verlaine duet as early as 1871. Debussy had set his first Verlaine poems (from Fêtes galantes, 1869) in 1882; these were Clair de lune (first version) and Mandoline. By comparison Fauré came late to Verlaine’s work with his own Clair de lune of 1887. In 1891 Winnaretta Singer (briefly married to the Prince de Scey-Montbéliard, a union that was papally annulled) encouraged Fauré to write an opera to a Verlaine libretto but this idea came to nothing. When she invited him in the same year to come to Venice on holiday it was perhaps not surprising that he should have taken several volumes of Verlaine with him. The idea of a cycle of songs to these texts occurred to him there – the subject matter of the barcarolle À Clymène might have seemed especially appropriate in this city of barcarolles. Fauré sketched the first song of the set, Mandoline, in Venice itself, but otherwise returned to Paris to work on them. It is true that the poems are not about ‘Serenissima’, but the composer regarded these mélodies as being ‘of Venice’, the fruit of a much-needed rest where he relaxed in beautiful surroundings, ‘au bord de l’eau’. This association is celebrated by the songs’ first editions which feature a charming illustration of a gondola on a lagoon with the Campanile and the San Marco basilica in the background. In a letter to the cycle’s dedicatee (the first edition notes her former title, ‘Mme la Princesse Winnaretta de Scey-Montbéliard’) he refers to the songs as being ‘a sort of Suite, a story’.

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
'My Garden' (CDA66937)
My Garden
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