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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: 2 minutes 16 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)

Séraphine
First line:
Quand je chemine, le soir
composer
author of text

Introduction
Séraphine is another twilit evocation of the kind in which Hahn excels. The original Heine poem (‘Wandl’ ich in dem Wald des Abends’) is from a collection called Verschiedene (‘Sundry Women’). For two bars the vocal line continues on one note—this, combined with the formula of the undulating arpeggios, provides a neutral background, like the anonymous murmurings of nightfall. And then on the word ‘rêveuse’ the voice plunges down a fifth and once again Hahn has worked his spell of seeming to create a real tune out of very little. A minimum amount of movement in the voice part seems to spin a line of the greatest eloquence—a type of trompe l’oreille where a complete musical picture is created with only a few deft strokes of outline.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

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