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Track(s) taken from CDA67321/2

La dernière feuille, Op 2 No 4

First line:
Dans la forêt chauve et rouillée
composer
6 June 1880
author of text

Chris Pedro Trakas (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: November 1999
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: March 2001
Total duration: 2 minutes 14 seconds
 

Reviews

'Up to Hyperion's habitual high standard' (Gramophone)

'Felicity Lott…is radiant and unhurried and the pick of an excellent crop of singers' (BBC Music Magazine)

'With this disc, the music of Chausson really does find revelatory new significance' (The Times)

'Superb. Art is long, life is short, and this offering is very, very rich' (Fanfare, USA)

'This is Hyperion at its best, presenting sensuous, exquisite performances … Dames Felicity Lott and Ann Murray generate magical artistry' (Music Week)

'Unlikely to be bettered' (MusicWeb International)

'To have the complete collection gathered together on disc is a treat, and with artists like these, the performances are about as good as you could expect this side of the pearly gates … If a reason for a reassessment of Chausson's role as a writer of mélodie is needed, this marvellous set is overwhelmingly it' (Amazon.co.uk)

'Editor, musicologist, impresario and pianist Graham Johnson gives us a jewel-box of essays, poems, time-lines, artwork, and Chausson's complete songs. And the performances are as magical and eloquent as the program book' (Opera News)
La dernière feuille is dated the same day as Les papillons. If that song has an accompaniment more agitated most of Chausson’s songs, then the piano writing of La dernière feuille is more static than usual. The music ideally matches the sparse autumnal imagery of the poem, and the lack of much rhythmic impulse in the accompaniment mirrors the narrator’s fatalistic acceptance of his fate. There are nevertheless numerous touches which subtly illumine the text, the vocal line a type of arioso which never has quite the energy to blossom into melody. (Reynaldo Hahn was to learn much from a song such as this which takes some of Massenet’s effects to new expressive heights.) The juxtaposition of major and minor chords at the beginning of the second strophe is typical of early Chausson (something learned from Schubert perhaps?) and the piano writing in the third strophe—chords dropping from the treble to the bass clef in imitation of falling leaves—also shows a lieder influence. Chausson’s refusal to yield to the obvious temptation to colour the final cadence in the major key (at the line ‘quand l’arbre sera vert’) is typical of his refusal to use musical tricks to manipulate the emotions of his public. A composer like Hahn became much more popular by employing just such ‘obvious’ sensual touches.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2001

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