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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67523
Recording details: August 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2006
Total duration: 4 minutes 58 seconds

'A disc to treasure' (BBC Music Magazine)

'John Mark Ainsley understands the idiom of these beguiling songs and delivers them with grace, fluency and clear diction … Graham Johnson's playing is as vivid and piquant as his booklet notes. A delectable disc' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Ainsley—urbane, sexy and witty throughout—is at his absolute best' (The Guardian)

'Graham Johnson is quite literally changing the way we hear French mélodie. What a voyage to be invited to join!' (International Record Review)

'How does Graham Johnson do it? Once again, he has explored territory that few today have even considered worthy of investigation, and once again, he has come up with an extraordinary CD' (Fanfare, USA)

'One of the finest examples of Gallic song performance' (MusicWeb International)

'Comme toujours, John Mark Ainsley touche à la perfection tant par le style que pour son impeccable diction, et Graham Johnson poursuit en maître artisan son indefatigable exploration du monde du lied et de la mélodie' (Diapason, France)

First line:
Jours passés
based on a motif from 'La source, ou Naila'
author of text

Early in his career Delibes collaborated with the ballet composer Minkus on La source, ou Naila; he uses one of the themes of that work as the basis of this song. It is written in the soulful manner of the old French romance—in the triplet-accompanied rondo theme one is reminded somehow of Martini’s Plaisir d’amour. After a rather portentous introduction of which Liszt might have been proud, we are introduced to the song’s main theme in F sharp minor. The gently rocking tune (in D major) for ‘Ô printemps sans retour!’ has the lilt of ballet music which prophesies Tchaikovsky (who admired Delibes enormously). The song’s rippling middle section in G flat major (from ‘Bien loin tu t’es enfuie’) has the seraphic quality we hear at the end of Fauré’s almost contemporary Chant d’automne. The F sharp minor theme returns and softens into a musing coda in the tonic major. This is a difficult song; its vocal challenges take the music almost into operatic territory.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes

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