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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: 2 minutes 44 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:
Je suis jaloux, Psyché, de toute la nature
author of text
1670; comédie-ballet written in collaboration with Molière

This is perhaps the best-known of Paladilhe’s songs, composed in 1887 and immortalized in the 1930s by a recording with Maggie Teyte and Gerald Moore. The British singer no doubt learned this music when it was very much still in vogue—the period, around 1908, in which she was living in Paris and working with Debussy. The text is taken from Psyché (a comédie-ballet written by Molière in collaboration with the ageing Corneille, 1670). In Act II Scene 3 there is an extended dialogue (by Corneille) between the beautiful maiden and L’amour (Cupid) who has been sent by Venus to make Psyché fall in love with an unsightly monster, but who falls in love with her himself. The composer alters the text of the first line slightly: Psyché, the pure of heart, asks Cupid if one can be ‘jaloux’ of the ‘tendresses du sang’ and he replies ‘Je suis jaloux, Psyché, de toute la nature’. This song employs the Massenet style better than Massenet himself: a languid piano accompaniment appropriates the main melody while the vocal line is relegated to a parlando role. A careful listening to the freedom of this ‘spoken’ style reminds us that Debussy, and his future Pelléas, owe a great deal to earlier composers; Debussy’s C’est l’extase langoureuse (Verlaine) was written more or less at the same time as Psyché. These two songs perfectly encapsulate the heady, perfumed atmosphere of a period, between 1880 and 1890, when Paris was in the grip of L’esprit décadent.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes

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