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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67257
Recording details: November 2000
Champs Hill, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: May 2002
Total duration: 28 minutes 42 seconds

'A vital addition to Hyperion's French song series, beautifully sung and played' (Gramophone)

‘Johnson has done much to rehabilitate the reputations of obscure composers of French Songs’ (BBC Music Magazine)

'A worthy and wonderful treat … a scintillating disc' (The Observer)

'Wonderfully idiomatic performances from singer and pianist alike, ideally recorded and presented' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'intrinsic artistic quality and fine performance … A tantalizing glimpse of a fine talent that deserves to be remembered as more than the sixth member of Les Six' (Fanfare, USA)

Images à Crusoé, Op 11
April 1918
author of text
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançais
Images a Crusoé is a true cycle of songs, not juxtaposed pieces as in the previous works but numbers closely dependent on one another by virtue of one generating and leading idea : the remembrance and nostalgia of the Island expressed by Crusoé, now prisoner to the rumours of the town.
The construction of the whole is carefully balanced: the first and seventh pieces form the introduction and conclusion, 2 and 6 contrast by their agile and lively temperament, Nos 3 and 5, more developed and significant, are comparable to a major central episode interrupted only, for an instant, by the quiet and brief No 4: the Arch. This balance can therefore legitimately claim to be the one of a symphony.
Like in Eloges, the ceaseless concern is to avoid anything that might evoke ‘exoticism’, all the more repudiated since, before the war, we had had such an excessive blossoming of Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Arab ‘poems’.
I reckon that Images à Crusoé forms the most complete merger I have ever managed between musical and poetic expression; the feeling spreads with fervour and intensity, even with enthusiasm (particularly in “Association”), and with such sincerity and spontaneity that this is, undoubtedly, one the most important works I have ever written.
Very free, the harmonic writing uses some atonality and polytonality (though without systematic preconception), but resorts more frequently to a regular tonal foundation, everything being absolutely dependent on keeping an expression as faithful as possible to the poetic idea, the language serving the thought as only a docile instrument of it.
Some wanted to picture in it the theme of solitude: “Crusoé’s theme belonged, as a matter of course, to Durey, the solitary,” wrote Jean Cocteau in Paris-Midi – Jean Cocteau who did not imagine that one might live outside his world, that world so foreign to mine.
In reality, Images, like the Quartet, helped me get rid of tricks and foolishness, resolutely and definitely.

(Louis Durey, from his Catalogue Commenté, translation by Isabelle Battioni)

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2002

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