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Seule (like Infidélité, the text is by Gautier) shows the influence of Fauré’s early mélodies. Indeed Fauré had published a setting of this poem as early as 1871. Hahn does not permit himself to copy the manner of Fauré’s song; indeed he goes to the opposite extreme of consciously avoiding any similarity to Fauré’s rather static setting. Rather is this moto perpetuo inspired by the turbulence of a song like Toujours from the Poème d’un jour. Like Wolf, who chose not to set poems that he felt had been put into music for all time by Schubert, Hahn tended to avoid poems that he felt had been truly understood by Fauré. (We have to remember that Hahn’s Chansons grises predate Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson by some years.) In this case we have to judge Hahn’s Seule a greater success than the older composer’s. The third strophe with its mournful recitative (in contrast to the hectic opening) is particularly successful, as is the sombre depth of the vocal line at ‘morne et profonde’. The return of the flowing triplets for ‘Sombre Hellespont’ gives a watery flow to the final page.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

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