Hyperion Records

Le secret, Op 23 No 3
First line:
Je veux que le matin l'ignore
1881; ‘À Mme Alice Boissonet’, Hamelle: Second Collection p35, F major (original key D flat major) 2/4 Adagio
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'Fauré: La chanson d'Ève & other songs' (CDA66320)
Fauré: La chanson d'Ève & other songs
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'Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3 – Chanson d'amour' (CDA67335)
Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3 – Chanson d'amour
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Le secret, Op 23 No 3
The poem comes from Silvestre’s collection entitled Le pays des roses (1882) where its title is Mystère. Once again the dating of the song suggests that the composer set the poem from a handwritten copy, or from an early publication in a magazine. Here is the Fauré–Silvestre collaboration at its best. If the gently flowing Nell personifies one kind of Fauré song, Le secret is among the best of another genre. This is music that encompasses religious awe or devotion (the composer of the Requiem can be identified, and the accompaniment often suggests the organ), that is almost always in tempi so slow that it approaches a kind of immobility. This achieves a transcendental effect with minimalist means – in short, a mystery worthy of the poem’s original title. The vocal line, a memorable melody, wistful and heartfelt, is preceded by four crotchet chords; the second of these, on the third degree of the scale, introduces a Gregorian flavour to the music that Jankélévitch compares to the Franciscan fervour to be found in some of Liszt’s piano and vocal music. The same writer finds that the delicacy of the two-bar interludes between Silvestre’s strophes is like ‘the breath of the beloved’. Like Schubert, Fauré has the ability to use the major key to write music that is tinged with melancholy; this silent worship expects, and receives, no reciprocation. Fauré always doubted his own worth and the worth of his work but the following incident, recounted by the composer to Henri Malherbe is revealing: ‘I’d recently finished a song called Le secret. I played it to Henri Duparc who began to tremble with emotion. The composer of La vie antérieure began to punch me with his fists shouting “Savage! Brute!” I realized then that Le secret was something good.’

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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