Hyperion Records

Dans les ruines d'une abbaye, Op 2 No 1
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Fauré often cuts poems short. Here the onrush of words in this tempo uses so many syllables that he must re-employ the first two strophes of the poem as his six and seventh verses before going on to finish the poem! The newly-weds are outdoors in springtime and in the grounds of an old abbey. Their vivacious peals of joy and laughter seem almost sacrilegious in contrast to the sombre shadows cast by clerical history. The poet remains defiantly irreverent. Even the tombstones inscribed with crosses, and thoughts of the praying nuns of yore, cannot dampen this young couple’s fun and games: the Church, a crumbling force in republican France, no longer has the power to intimidate a generation that has grown up as free thinkers. It is a bitter fact for Hugo that France under Napoléon III is no longer a republic. The great Fauré commentator Jankélévitch, probably a religious man, preferred not to hear this text because it was of a ‘décourageante stupidité’. In any case, Fauré ignores any deeper layers of meaning in this relatively late poem (from Les chansons des rues et des bois, 1865); instead we are treated to a simple moto perpetuo of high spirits. As in Mai the rippling accompaniment facilitates a catchy little tune that skips with considerable elan and with scarcely a pause for breath. I remember a masterclass at Aldeburgh when Hugues Cuenod snatched the music from a student who had plodded through the song with well-meaning reverence. Cuenod, still singing marvellously in his seventies, gambolled in ‘les ruines’ with a joie de vivre that had all the onlookers applauding – Peters Pears on his feet, beaming and calling for a bis.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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Details for CDA67336 track 3
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-05-33603
Duration
1'45
Recording date
4 August 2004
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
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