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Hyperion Records

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Two Angels (c1870) by Charles Sellier (1830-1882)
Track(s) taken from CDA67141/2
Recording details: December 1995
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown & Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: June 1996
Total duration: 1 minutes 58 seconds

'What treasures are here … the two discs provide an unmissable opportunity to explore a composer who is underrated and overlooked perhaps because he was too modest about himself. There are melodies here which Massenet, Debussy, Fauré and Ravel would have been proud to call their own. No one can fail to have their musical horizon broadened by these discs, which will assuredly come high among my Records of the Year, any year … these discs have given me as much pleasure as any I have heard this year … to hear Felicity Lott in Les étoiles, Susan Bickley in Offrande and Ian Bostridge in Tyndaris is to relish some of the most accomplished vocal artistry of the day' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Some fascinating rarities' (Gramophone)

'To wonderful songs … [the artists] bring delicacy, grace, an emotion the more poignant for being understated … Not to be missed' (The Observer)

'This gorgeous set … Irresistible' (The Sunday Times)

'This is music for the intellect, interpreted with the utmost sensitivity' (Hi-Fi News)

'Ces chanteurs brittaniques interprètent ces petits bijoux avec soin touchant. Par la qualité du phrasé, ils lui restituent sa qualité essentielle, le sens du mot et de la ligne mélodique' (Répertoire, France)

'Graham Johnson choisir ses chanteurs qui possèdent une musicalité irréprochable et un français non seulement intelligible mais évocateur—et de les accompanger avec tant de poésie' (Diapason, France)

Mai
First line:
Depuis un moi, chère exilée
composer
author of text

Introduction
Mai is a delicious waltz-song which is prophetic of Hahn’s gift in the realms of lighter music. The setting of ‘inconsolée’ at the end of the first verse, with its descending pattern followed by an upward leap of a seventh, is typical of this composer’s vocal writing. It was this type of song that Ravel set out to compose when he wrote Fascination, selling it to Marchetti rather than lose his reputation as a serious master. (It is recorded by Stephen Varcoe in ‘La Procession’, CDA66248). François Coppée, a Parnassian poet, was a friend of both Verlaine and Sarah Bernhardt. He was more distinguished in Hahn’s day than his present-day reputation would suggest, and he was celebrated for understanding the emotions of unimportant working Parisians, and giving them a poetic voice. To the modern ear, however, the poetry sounds rather portentous.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

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