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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: 3 minutes 34 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)

Accompagnement, Op 85 No 3
First line:
Tremble argenté, tilleul, bouleau
28 March 1902, Op 85 No 3, ‘À Madame Edouard Risler’, Hamelle: Third Collection p82, G flat major (original key) 3/2 Adagio
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The song was written for Emilie Girette, later wife of the pianist Edouard Risler, and one of the many singing beauties who inspired the composer over the years to song composition. It is another Samain setting, the composer’s third and last dalliance with this poet, and among the least performed of all Fauré’s mélodies. Less obviously voluptuous than Pleurs d’or, it shows the composer on the border of his third period. The music has all the harmonic complexity of Fauré’s late style, but it has yet to achieve the transparency and lucidity of the four final cycles. This extended mélodie is best understood as a series of pictures, each reflecting the composer’s lifelong virtuosity with musical imagery depicting water. The first of these (the poem’s opening five lines) is accompanied by pulsating mezzo staccato quavers, ever changing yet somehow immobile – a perfect musical description of shimmering moonlight on the flat and mirror-like surface of ‘Le grand lac parfumé’. In the next seven lines the singer plies his oar in ‘broad slow swooning strokes’. Each plunge in forte quavers and triplets sets off a series of subsidiary ripples in piano semiquavers. The next two strophes (from ‘Là-bas la lune écoute’) inspire yet another pattern: limpid sextuplets spiral between the pianist’s hands, and from the lower stave to the higher, a miracle of teeming uneventfulness, the gliding of the boat in unearthly silence. This is water music, simultaneously nocturne and barcarolle, whose upward drift is also redolent of the fragrance of the lilies mentioned in the text. The final strophe of the poem is set to the music of the opening as both moon and poet’s oar touch the surface of the water. The vocal line is neither melody nor recitative, but a continually evolving combination of the two – pure music that simplifies an over aesthetic text. If the song as a whole is not one of Fauré’s greatest, it contains ample evidence of his own greatness.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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