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Hyperion Records

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Lord Byron and the maid of Athens by Sir William Allen (1782-1850)
Roy Miles Gallery, 29 Bruton Steet, London W1
Track(s) taken from CDA66801/2
Recording details: May 1993
St Paul's Church, New Southgate, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Keith Warren
Release date: October 1993
Total duration: 3 minutes 49 seconds

'Exemplary … enchanting … ravishingly sung' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Superb … perfection … Best of the year' (The Sunday Times)

'Uniformement exquis' (Répertoire, France)

'C'est remarquable. Un coffret qui devient un événement' (Compact, France)

'Un stupendo doble compacto' (CD Compact, Spain)

Chanson de printemps
First line:
Viens, enfant, la terre s'éveille
author of text

Chanson de printemps is another wonderful song. The poet Tourneux is scarcely a revered master but Gounod makes of this rather conventional spring lyric an extraordinarily vibrant paean to the new season. It is true that the typical Gounod is not usually as fleet of foot as this (it is this type of excitement which seems so seldom generated in the later songs) but here we have real energy—a quality which the Germans call Schwung in which nothing can stop the momentum of the rising sap. The piano never stops weaving semiquavers for an instant; this provides a cat’s cradle over which the vocal line can soar—and even in a song as fast as this the declamation never sounds hurried; as in all the best Gounod songs sensual languidity is built into the very rise and fall of the vocal line whatever the tempo of the piece. The chromatically rising harmonies underneath the final two lines of each strophe (repeated in each case) are superbly placed to set up the reprise of the introduction to the following verse. And we do not mind hearing the same music all over again. The breadth and span of the vocal line (the harmonies opening up like petals of an exotic flower) make the song a worthy antecedent to such moto perpetuo-accompanied mélodies by Fauré as Nell and La mer est infinie. In 1866 Gounod arranged this song as his fifth Romance sans paroles for piano.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993

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