Hyperion Records

Chanson, Op 94
First line:
Que me fait toute la terre
1906, Op 94, Heugel: 1907, E minor (original key)
author of text
La sandale ailée

'Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2 – Un paysage choisi' (CDA67334)
Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2 – Un paysage choisi

Chanson, Op 94
This is Fauré’s last song in madrigal style, but one of the most piquant. It would surely be better known if an accident of publishing had not consigned it to be issued as a single song by a new publisher, Heugel (another ‘orphan’ song which shares this fate is Le don silencieux). The text comes from Henri de Régnier’s collection La sandale ailée, hot off the press. It is possible that Fauré was drawn to the poet by the example of Albert Roussel, four of whose settings of Régnier’s poetry were performed by Jane Bathori in Paris in April 1906; the same singer was to perform La bonne chanson the following month at an all-Fauré festival. The title is the poet’s own, a kind of compliment galant in the manner of the first of Ravel’s Don Quichotte songs. Paradoxically the extravagant tone of the words gives them a courtly formality. Régnier’s pastiche of a madrigal is matched by Fauré with similar time-travel; his song is accompanied by a piano standing in for a lute, and that instrument is depicted with more accuracy than in Clair de lune. Chanson is rightly prized by those who admire musical economy – this is a fine example of multum in parvo, a piece of musical conjuring where the most slender means achieve eloquence. Indeed this song is typical of many a creation from Fauré’s third period, a substantial achievement that only masquerades as a trifle. Notes used with sparing discernment, a strong bass line and an implacable rhythm create a harmonic world of subtlety and disguised richness. The change from E minor into the four sharps of E major is a masterclass in modulation. Nadia Boulanger, that great teacher of composition and Fauré’s pupil at one time, doubtless adored Chanson. It is no coincidence that the music of many of her pupils, including the young Lennox Berkeley, aspired to this lean texture with never a note too many. Astonishingly, this music has the characteristics of Stravinsky’s neo-classicism before Stravinsky himself had discovered any such style. When this happened Fauré has already moved on to pastures, or gardens, more rarefied still.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

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