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Noël, Op 43 No 1
First line:
La nuit descend du haut des cieux
1885, Op 43 No 1, ‘À mon ami A Talazac’, Hamelle: First Collection p89, A flat major (original key) 4/4 Andante quasi allegretto
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 

Noël, Op 43 No 1
The position of this cantique (Fauré declined to designate it a mélodie) at the end of the first Hamelle collection defies the work’s real chronology. The publisher was very keen (for the sake of good order and symmetry) that sixty Fauré songs should be parcelled into three volumes of twenty each. One of the casualties of this arrangement was the song Barcarolle (an early song that found itself placed in the second volume); Noël is a later work that was swept into the first recueil for convenience’s sake. Noël was initially conceived as an occasional piece, a little Christmas song with harmonium accompaniment. The piano does not quite reproduce the colours of that instrument, but it is clear that Fauré had the festive sound of carillons in mind and the pianist must do his best as a bell-ringer. Fauré sometimes seems to lack the practical touch: here he writes music ‘for the people’ (simplified to a degree, and seemingly designed for a popular market) and yet the vocal-writing is far too demanding for any amateur, and the accompaniment would defeat most village organists. Great French composers seem traditionally permitted to write slightly awkward, and untypical, Christmas songs: thus Debussy’s Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons, Ravel’s Noël des jouets and Poulenc’s Nous voulons une petite sœur. The text embraces a traditional religiosity (one could say exultantly so at the end of the piece); it belongs perhaps with the composer’s smaller sacred works and pièces d’occasion (like Il est né, le divin enfant and En prière) rather than with his mélodies.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67334 track 13
Recording date
4 August 2004
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
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