This music was written in the shadow of La chanson d’Ève
. This is one of ten vocalises-études (in the first volume of a series) that were published under the direction of A L Hettich, singing professor at the Conservatoire. Naturally the vocalise of Fauré, as director of the Conservatoire, is placed at the beginning of the volume which also contains similar exercises by Koechlin, Ropartz, Schmitt and Vierne among others. Fauré’s music is a solemn march with his characteristic mezzo staccato crotchet accompaniment. It is carefully crafted to contain a number of vocal challenges, including the singing of intervals as wide as a tenth, and the pitching of unusual harmonies. This piece tests not only the voice, but also exactitude of rhythm without which no singer should broach a Fauré mélodie. It is a haunting piece of music in its own right that deserves to be better known, but Ravel’s Vocalise en forme de Habañera
of the following year (published in Hettich’s second collection) obliterated all competition.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005