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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 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)

Ma jeunesse
composer
author of text

Introduction
It seems highly likely that Reynaldo chose to set this poem by Hélène Vacaresco in 1918 because of the final verse with its reference to vanished youth and the presence of a thousand sad memories. He had taken part in a terrible war (he was forty-three) and had lost many friends and seen much carnage. The music seems disorientated, mournful and lost; it is complicated by syncopations in the accompaniment which, like similar instances in the later songs of Schumann, are more comprehensible and interesting on paper than to the ear. The piano writing seems disjointed, an obsessively repeating pattern which begins on the second quaver of each bar. The vocal line is as usual in the Hahn style a mixture of recitative and arioso. This is a strange fruit of the composer’s muse, but it is not without its own sad beauty.

from notes by Graham Johnson 1996

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