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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: 1 minutes 34 seconds

Si mes vers avaient des ailes
First line:
Mes vers fuiraient, doux et frêles
1882; in collaboration with his brother Lucien; No 10 of Vingt mélodies
1882; in collaboration with his brother Paul; No 10 of Vingt mélodies
author of text
1856; Les contemplations

The poem is from Hugo’s Les contemplations (1856). The famous setting of these words is by Reynaldo Hahn (1888). The Hillemacher brothers set the poem before Hahn, and Reber set the poem before the Hillemachers. Hahn, at the age of thirteen, penned a coup de maître as his coup d’essai—music youthfully ardent yet languid with the perfume of the Décadence. The Hillemachers, a decade or so earlier, are more taken with the poem’s fleet imagery of wings and flight. The vocal line entwines canonically with the piano accompaniment in breathless rapture. The final ‘des ailes/Comme l’amour’ is murmured on a monotone as the piano traces the contour of the principal melody. Here, as elsewhere, the strength and independence of the Hillemachers bass line prophesies Ravel.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes

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