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Hyperion Records

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À l'ombres des bosquets chante un jeune poète by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891)
Reproduced by permission of The Wallace Collection, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA66856
Recording details: January 1996
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: January 1997
Total duration: 4 minutes 30 seconds

author of text
Les Exilés

Saint-Saëns was nothing if not aware of the popular market. From time to time (not often, for he is not nearly so obliging as Massenet) he writes a piece which is meant to capture the mood of the times, and to provide the public with what it wants. There is something of this accommodation in Aimons-nous et dormons, and Saint-Saëns’ reversion to the noble style of Gounod’s Lamartine settings (a vocal line unfolding over seraphically-repeated crotchets) seems a strange reversion to a Second Empire musical manner as late as 1892. There is even a suggestion of Lisztian elaboration in the way that the same musical phrases are repeated with ever more ornate accompaniment. The fact that it is among the composer’s most popular songs is merely confirmation of the fact that the plush chromatic style (the vocal line is made up of soulfully descending semitones) was a hit with the public. Despite his insistence that he was a classicist, Saint-Saëns was a man of his time, subject to a nineteenth-century enthusiasm for slightly ‘actory’ sublimity.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997

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