is beyond doubt the summit of Reynaldo Hahn’s art as a pasticheur, and it ranks as perhaps the most successful example of musical time-travelling in the French mélodie repertoire (if one excludes that peerless masterpiece of the madrigal style, Fauré’s Clair de lune
). À Chloris
has charm, elegance, gravity and the ability to move audiences—what more could one ask of a song, whether or not it is a pastiche? The fact that it is based on the striding bass line of Bach’s ‘Air on the G-string’ seems irrelevant: one smiles at the composer’s audacity at the beginning, but one stays to listen to the music, Hahn’s music, in its own right. It uses one of his favourite devices where the accompaniment is a piano piece with its own momentum; over this the voice embroiders an inspired overlay which seems half sung and half spoken, moving with conversational grace between whispered confidences and declarations of love in full voice. Here is a different world from the Charles d’Orléans settings—this is seventeenth-century France where the medieval has ceded to the baroque. All the grace of Louis XIII’s epoch seems encapsulated here, but there is also an undertone of sadness.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996