No 1: Rencontre J’étais triste et pensif quand je t’ai rencontrée
No 2: Toujours Vous me demandez de me taire
No 3: Adieu Comme tout meurt vite, la rose déclose
One is very tempted to see an autobiographical side to this little cycle which is perhaps nearer to Schumann’s Heine triptych Tragödie than to Frauenliebe und -leben. The manner of conducting an affair as outlined in this cycle seems curiously prophetic of the composer’s many liaisons. Fauré was caught in an unsatisfactory marriage (from 1883), but divorce was never contemplated (probably for the sake of the children). Nevertheless, his affairs were legendary – this examiner of the provincial conservatoires had a woman in every port. He was noted for his laconic charm, and he must have broken many hearts – particularly those of ladies who allowed themselves to imagine that he would leave his difficult wife having found ‘true love’. There were mistresses of protracted influence (Emma Bardac, Marguerite Hasselmans), but Fauré’s affairs were, on the whole, ‘poèmes d’un jour’ (or a few weeks) with a deft exit strategy. He must have been adept at charm (the first song), showing just enough glints of passion (the second), followed by something like the elegant retreat of the third. These extrications probably saved Fauré’s marriage and reputation (compare Debussy’s domestic linen washed in public), and increased his reputation for inscrutability.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005