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Le don silencieux, Op 92
First line:
Je mettrai mes deux mains sur ma bouche, pour taire
‘À Mme Octave Maus’, Heugel, published separately, 1906, E major (original key) c Andante molto moderato
author of text
author of text

'Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3 – Chanson d'amour' (CDA67335)
Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3 – Chanson d'amour
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67335 

Le don silencieux, Op 92
The poem is the last (No xxviii) in the collection entitled L’anémone des mers by Jean Dominique, the pseudonym of Marie Closset. There is no poet’s heading to the lyric, thus the evocative title is the composer’s own. It is a rarity simply because it was published separately, and was never part of one of the recueils. When it was out of print, copies of the music circulated among singers and pianists who guarded the pages with devotion (I first acquired it thirty years ago in a battered photocopy from Dalton Baldwin). Fauré was not often inclined to discuss his songs at length, but here he wrote the following words to his wife: ‘It does not in the least resemble any of my previous works, nor anything that I am aware of; I am very pleased about this. There is not even a main theme; the song is of a free nature which would strongly upset Théodore Dubois. It translates the words gradually as they unfold themselves; it begins, opens out, and finishes, nothing more, nevertheless it is unified.’ With these words, and with this song, Fauré turns the key in the lock and opens the door to his late style. Of course there are similarities to earlier works: the dreamy, introverted nature of Le secret and Les présents, the guitar-like madrigal accompaniment of Chanson d’amour and Le plus doux chemin, the economy of Le ramier and Chanson. This music represents evolution rather than revolution, but there is also something new here that is beyond technical analysis – a reserve, a melancholy, a renuciation that breaks the heart in its lack of self-pity and its honesty. Because this music seems peeled right down to the deepest level of self-revelation it is difficult not to equate this ‘don silencieux’ with the gift of Fauré’s music to the world, and his noble disinclination to push himself, and his art, under our noses. Like the silent lover who keeps his distance, the gift of this composer’s music is easy to ignore and refuse; indeed it must first be gathered up, and taken to heart, before it can be understood and cherished. It is little wonder that this strange little song with its halting gait, and almost no melody to speak of, has always been an article of faith among enthusiasts. A mere mention of Le don silencieux can make admirers of Fauré go misty-eyed; it used to be that an awareness of its very existence was taken as a measure of devotion to his mélodies.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67335 track 31
Recording date
4 August 2004
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
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