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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 16 seconds

Sur l'eau
First line:
Je n'entends que le bruit de la rive et de l'eau
author of text
author of text

Sur l’eau is a setting of Sully Prud’homme—a poet one associates more with Fauré (Les Berceaux) and Duparc (Soupir) than with Reynaldo Hahn in the years of the First World War. The poem actually is more reminiscent of an earlier Fauré song to a Prud’homme text, Au bord de l’eau, where water imagery is also a central theme. This song is one of the most experimental on the disc in terms of harmony. It shares with Poulenc’s song C the unusual distinction of being in A flat minor (seven flats) but it seems to float unanchored both in terms of quay and key, changing harmonic direction with almost every beat. This is the side of Hahn which was influenced by Fauré’s later songs. There is the familiar limpid atmosphere and exquisite deployment and husbanding of basically limited resources of invention, but the music is definitely more modern, and seems to come, for once, from the twentieth century. The song’s final pages abandon the rocking 6/8 piano figurations in favour of much more simple accompanying chords. Read in personal terms the text seems to be a reaffirmation of Reynaldo’s own emotional inscrutability and ambiguity in the eyes of the world. The harmonic ambivalence illustrates the watery indecision inherent in the text.

from notes by Graham Johnson 1996

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