Hyperion Records

Lydia, Op 4 No 2
c1870, Op 4 No 2, ‘À Mme Marie Trélat’, Hamelle: First Collection p32, G major (original key F major) 4/4 Andante
author of text

'Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2 – Un paysage choisi' (CDA67334)
Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2 – Un paysage choisi
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67334 
'Of ladies and love' (CDA67315)
Of ladies and love
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67315  Last few CD copies remaining   Download currently discounted
Track 19 on CDA67315 [2'56] Last few CD copies remaining

Lydia, Op 4 No 2
On the composer’s return to Paris after the upheavals of the Commune he heard Duparc’s new masterpiece L’invitation au voyage. That work is a turning point in French song; it also introduced Fauré to Baudelaire’s work and encouraged him to consider moving away from composing romances to the long poems of Hugo. Instead he began to tackle shorter poems by younger poets that had the power to create a more intense musical atmosphere. Leconte de Lisle’s Lydia (No XVII of the ‘Études latines’ section of his Poèmes antiques of 1852) was an ideal match with the composer’s new espousal of the mélodie. The simplicity of the music on the page belies a stunning new sophistication in Fauré’s approach. The vocal line is shadowed by the voice adding to the Attic purity of the evocation; the attenuated piano-writing avoids anything unseemly or immodest. An ancient Greek atmosphere is created partly by use of the Lydian mode, the sharpened fourth of the scale. This gentle exoticism adds to the music’s rarefied charm; it is as if we are breathing the air of Parnassus (the marvellous postlude dissolves into those ethereal regions more convincingly than the ascension depicted in Schubert’s Ganymed). At ‘tes baisers de colombe’ the undulating vocal line, accompanied by gently fluting thirds, is the most convincing illustration of cooing doves in all song. Dove imagery is welcomed; Leconte de Lisle’s description of Lydia’s neck being as ‘fresh and pale as milk’ is another matter! Confronted with the poet’s ‘Et sur ton col frais, et plus blanc / Que le lait’ Fauré, with devilish cunning, changes ‘plus’ to ‘si’ and simply leaves out ‘Que le lait’, allowing ‘blanc’ to link with the next verb ‘roule’. A piano interlude (bars 6 to 7) stands in for the judicious cut. If this song owes its existence to Duparc, that composer’s Phydilé was certainly inspired by Lydia, as was Chausson’s Hébé (all three song heroines were Leconte de Lisle’s Grecian nymphs).

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005
English: Hypérion

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA67315 track 19
Recording date
15 December 2001
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Of ladies and love (CDA67315)
    Disc 1 Track 19
    Release date: August 2002
    Last few CD copies remaining
   English   Français   Deutsch