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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: 1 minutes 29 seconds

'This is the most resounding blow yet to be struck for the mélodies of Saint-Saëns … Le Roux is one of the most charismatic performers of our time … this is certainly one of the best things he has done so far. A double welcome for performers and rare repertory' (Gramophone)

'Musical jewels surface with delightful consistency in this 27-song recital. An absorbing and revelatory disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'There's hardly a dud among these 30-or-so songs on this well filled, perfectly recorded disc, an ideal accompaniment to a hot summer evening' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Another immensely pleasant recital from Hyperion, both in content and performance. [François Le Roux] is establishing himself as the leading French baritone of the day' (Classic CD)

'François Le Roux est l'interprète prédestiné. Son intelligence des mots, son sens de la juste inflexion font ici merveille' (Diapason, France)

'Apoya magnificamente al baritono, firmando entre ambos un trabajo auténticamente digno de conocerse. Sonido exemplar' (CD Compact, Spain)

Le vent dans la plaine
First line:
C'est l'extase langoureuse
composer
1912
author of text
Romances sans paroles: Ariettes oubliées

Introduction
This is a convincing piece of ‘modern’ Saint-Saëns, perhaps because it dates from 1912 when the composer was in full command of his faculties and was, whether he liked it or not, influenced by his pupil Fauré. It is the one setting that we have from this composer of a lyric by Paul Verlaine, so much the poet of Debussy and Fauré. The title almost perversely disguises the fact that this is a setting of the celebrated ‘C'est l'extase langoureuse’. Debussy wrote a song to this poem which stands at the opening of his Ariettes oubliées. A few years later Fauré, in a completely différent manner, used the poem to close his cycle entitled Cinq Mélodies de Venise. Both songs are masterpieces, and we would not be without either. When Saint-Saëns cornes to set the poem he takes its title from the motto phrase by Favart which Verlaine prints above the poem: ‘Le vent dans la plaine / Suspend son haleine’. He then proceeds to cut the text to eradicate the embarrassing references to the poet’s post-coital disquiet in the arms of Rimbaud. Perhaps these were too near the bone. The incessant semiquavers passing through a series of harmonic complexities are reminiscent of Nell, though here and there are also strong echoes of the inscrutable composer of La Chanson d’Ève and Le jardin clos. In any case what we have here is a genuinely new type of song for Saint-Saëns, without a trace of stylisation and pastiche, and courting no easy public.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997

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