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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66976
Recording details: May 1997
Unknown, Unknown
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: February 1998
Total duration: 3 minutes 53 seconds

'A most attractive addition to the song library, finely recorded and invaluably well documented' (Gramophone)

'I could rhapsodize about every one of these songs; they all enchant. Immensely enjoyable—a CD that will make repeated visits to my player' (Fanfare, USA)

'Merci, madame Murray, d'avoir interprété ces purs joyaux avec un rare talent de comédienne, déclamant la douleur, éveillant les sortilèges, chuchotant les secrets' (Telerama)

'Une joya' (CD Compact, Spain)

author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
The dedication of this song ‘A Mademoiselle Christine Nilsson’ tells us a great deal. This Swedish soprano was one of the most virtuosic singers of the age and had created the role of Ophelia in Thomas’s Hamlet (1868) as well as taking part in early performances of Faust. Bizet had written the extravagantly ornamented role of Catherine for Nilsson in La jolie fille de Perth, and he has been much criticized for pandering to her desire to show off. Nilsson obviously required music in which she could display the celebrated flexibility of her voice and her range of two-and-a-half octaves. Tarentelle, no doubt written for one of her many concert tours, proves that Bizet positively enjoyed writing for a singer with a death-defying technique: it is far too good a song to be written off as a concession to vocal vanity. Noske notes how harmonically daring the work is with its adventurous use of sophisticated harmonic devices and risqué dissonances: besides upper and lower pedals, Bizet also use the pedal in an intermediate voice – in the right hand of the piano part. The poem by Pailleron is contained within any numbers of ‘Tra la las’ – a note-spinning device familiar from Guitare. The middle section of the song in the major key (‘Ma belle où voyez-vous la trace, La trace de l’amant ailé?’) and the Andantino in the subdominant (‘Le flot est rapide et changeant’ – a superbly appropriate piece of water music with a tugging ebb and flow) strike a genuinely touching and poetic note. The composer then embarks on a further round of tongue-in-cheek pyrotechnics. This song, painfully embarrassing in the wrong hands and larynx, is breathtaking in the right ones. As an example of Bizet’s energetic insouciance, that special quality which marks him out as a song composer more daring than most of his contemporaries, it could hardly be bettered.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1998

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