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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: 3 minutes 37 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)

Quand la nuit n'est pas étoilée
composer
author of text

Introduction
The second Recueil opens, like the first, with a setting of Victor Hugo. Quand la nuit n’est pas étoilée is an earlier work than many other songs in this collection. Its low tessitura suggests the laconic crooning style of the composer himself (at least in the opening pages) and Hahn has invented a marvellous accompanying pattern with triplets in the right hand and duplets in the left which suggests the gentle tug of sea currents. Hugo’s poem is immense in its imagery and this rhapsodic setting rises to the challenge. The vocal line is more melodically memorable in its own right than many a Hahn song of this type. There is a real sense of inevitable recapitulation just before ‘Toi, demande au monde nocturne’ with the return of one of the composer’s best tunes. The most typical of Reynaldo’s songs are more intimate than this, but as in Les Étoiles he takes his brush to a larger canvas and succeeds.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

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