Hyperion Records

Dans ton cœur
Here is another song, this time from 1872, which suggests the salon, although this time it is more of its own epoch. It is as if Saint-Saëns has glanced at the Cinq Mélodies published by Duparc in 1868 (the fourth of these, Chanson triste, uses the same text and was destined to become one of the most famous of songs) and decided to be different as a matter of principle. (Duparc, by the way, attributes the poem to Jean Lahor, the pen-name for the writer whom Saint-Saëns acknowledges on his title-page as Henri Cazalis.) How masterfully Duparc weaves these words into a silken thread of running semiquavers and a vocal line of infinite grace. On the other hand Saint-Saëns opts for a more static approach, admirably economical and telling, with much of the text sung beneath held chords, a tactic which gives the singer a certain freedom to tell the story untrammelled by the piano. Much of the song’s effectiveness comes from a chain of exquisite modulations; indeed at times the song seems unanchored in any key. In a strange way, and exactly contrary to the historical facts, there is more of a Franckian feeling to this song than we find in Duparc’s masterpiece.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997

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