No 01: Paradis C'est le premier matin du monde
No 02: Prima verba Comme elle chante
No 03: Roses ardentes
No 04: Comme Dieu rayonne
No 05: L'aube blanche
No 06: Eau vivante Que tu es simple et claire
No 07: Veilles-tu, ma senteur de soleil?
No 08: Dans un parfum de roses blanches
No 09: Crépuscule Ce soir, à travers le bonheur
No 10: Ô mort, poussière d'étoiles
This substantial work by Charles Van Lerberghe appeared in 1904 and is dedicated to Émile Verhaeren. Fauré’s friend Alfred Mockel introduced the composer to this poetry which attracted him immediately. The work contains ninety-six poems and is divided into five sections: Fauré passes over the Prélude and begins his cycle with the first poem of Premières paroles (3), followed by 8, 7, 12, 16, 22 from the same section. (It is clear that the wonder of the Creation and the garden of Eden interest Fauré far more than Eve’s fall from grace.) There is a single poem from La tentation (39) before a return to Premières paroles (29). The eighteen poems of La faute are ignored entirely. The cycle ends with poems 86 and 94 (the third to last poem) from Crépuscule which the composer also adopts as the title of the penultimate song; thus Fauré’s cycle follows Van Lerberghe’s chronology only to a generalized extent; it skims the surface of the poet’s portrait of Eve while deepening it with matchless music. The opening lines of the poems are their only titles, thus Paradis, Prima verba and Eau vivante are Fauré’s own.
In motivic terms La chanson d’Ève is a less complex composition than La bonne chanson with its five recurring themes. In other ways, despite the fact that the music seems far less dense on the page, the later cycle is far more ambitious. Fauré, not yet as old as Haydn when he wrote Die Schöpfung, undertakes nothing less than a ‘Creation’ of his own. Eve is a cosmic figure, the grandest protagonist in any of the female song cycles; and we hear the voice of God Himself, a unique event in the song repertoire. So absorbing is this picture that the absence of Adam (from Fauré’s scenario at least) seems hardly worthy of comment.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005