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Track(s) taken from CDA67333

Cinq Mélodies «de Venise», Op 58

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

Dame Felicity Lott (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: 12 minutes 27 seconds
 
1
Mandoline  Les donneurs de sérénades  [2'04]
2
En sourdine  Calmes dans le demi-jour  [3'12]
3
Green  Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches  [1'49]
4
À Clymène  Mystiques barcarolles  [2'40]
5
C'est l'extase  [2'42]

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)
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

Comparé à Massenet, qui avait composé un duo d’après Verlaine dès 1871, et à Debussy, qui avait mis en musique ses premiers poèmes verlainiens en 1882 (la première version de Clair de lune et Mandoline, extraits des Fêtes galantes, 1869), Fauré est venue tardivement à l’œuvre de Verlaine, son Clair de lune datant de 1887. En 1891, Winnaretta Singer (qui fut un court temps mariée au prince de Scey-Montbéliard – une union annulée par le pape) incita Fauré à écrire un opéra sur un livret de Verlaine, mais cette idée resta lettre morte. Rien d’étonnant, cependant, à ce qu’il ait probablement pris, quand elle l’invita à venir passer des vacances à Venise cette année-là, plusieurs volumes de Verlaine. Car ce fut à Venise que lui vint l’idée d’un cycle de mélodies sur ces textes – le thème de la barcarolle À Clymène dut lui sembler des plus appropriés dans cette cité de barcarolles. Il ébaucha la première mélodie du corpus, Mandoline, à Venise même mais, pour le reste, il rentra travailler à Paris. Certes, les poèmes choisis ne traitent pas de la «Sérénissime», mais Fauré considéra ces mélodies comme étant «de Venise», fruits d’une pause bien nécessaire, durant laquelle il se détendit dans un cadre magnifique, «au bord de l’eau». Ce lien vénitien, les premières éditions des mélodies le célébrèrent par une charmante illustration figurant une gondole sur une lagune avec, en arrière-plan, le Campanile et la basilique San Marco. Dans une lettre adressée à la dédicataire du cycle (l’édition princeps mentionne son ancien titre, «Mme la princesse Winnaretta de Scey-Montbéliard»), Fauré parle de ces mélodies comme d’«une sorte de Suite, une histoire».

extrait des notes rédigées par ©

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