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Track(s) taken from CDA67528

Three Songs, Op 10

author of text
1908; Chamber Music, No 1: xxxii; No 2: xxxiv; No 3: xxxvi

Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Recording details: December 2005
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2007
Total duration: 7 minutes 24 seconds

Cover artwork: Sunset, Montclair (detail) (1892) by George Inness (1825-1894)
Private Collection, David Findlay Jnr Fine Art, NYC, USA / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'Performances of this calibre emphasise Barber's stature in the mainstream of 20th-century song composers … Finley and Drake are impeccable (as are the Aronowitz Quartet in Dover Beach) … this is another outstanding Hyperion release that does credit to Barber in what will soon be a run-up to his centenary' (Gramophone)

'Gerald Finley is golden in tone, persuasive in phrasing, and unfailingly responsive to the sound and sense of the words. Julius Drake once more proves a strong and imaginative partner, and a quartet from the Aronowitz Ensemble makes a promising recording debut … a very satisfying recital' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The indefatigable Gerald Finley, who makes even the most straight-laced song shine … Julius Drake is his ever percipient partner, while the strings of the Aronowitz Ensemble provide an atmospheric backing for the most famous of these songs, Dover Beach' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The performances are outstanding. Canadian baritone Finley is in top form, showing total command of his voice with stunning hushed singing and ringing top notes. Drake is his reliable accompanist … everything about this recording is terrific' (American Record Guide)

'Baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake follow their outstanding disc of songs by Charles Ives with a collection devoted to a very different American composer. Samuel Barber's particularly personal brand of romanticism seems so natural and unforced, it's unnecessary to attach the prefix 'neo-' to it. Barber's gifts for elegant, melodic writing and his own early experiences as a singer (he once contemplated a career as a baritone) made him a natural songwriter, and two of the works here—the 10 settings of medieval Irish texts that make up his Hermit Songs Op 29, and the magically rapt version of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach—are among his finest achievements in any genre. The Mélodies Passagères, composed in the early 1950s for Pierre Bernac and Francis Poulenc, are a homage to French song; three other settings of James Joyce and some of Barber's songs to American texts are also included. Finley is a wonderfully persuasive advocate for all these songs, and shows that the best of them rank among the greatest of the 20th century' (The Guardian)

'Finley captures the 'eternal note of sadness' that the poet Matthew Arnold hears on the wave-dragged shingle on Dover Beach … Finley and Drake make an excellent partnership throughout' (The Times)

'In my book, Samuel Barber is one of the finest of all songwriters of the 20th century … every human emotion … is astutely conveyed. Gerald Finley knows this well, and here sings some of Barber's finest … ably assisted by the pianist Julius Drake, Finley communicates with finesse every poetic nuance, his golden baritone allied to rare poetic intelligence' (The Sunday Times)

'Having served the songs of Charles Ives with enormous distinction, the partnership of baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake shift artistic gear to explore works by one of America's greatest tunesmiths. Samuel Barber's lyrical writing and subtle feeling for expressive shading were matched in his songs by a Britten-like aptness for word-setting, which ideally suits Finley's compelling blend of emotional conviction and vocal sensibility. On the strength of his interpretation of the Hermit Songs alone, regardless of his majestic readings of Barber's Rilke settings and Dover Beach, Finley enables this album to command its price as one of the year's finest vocal releases. Unmissable' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Finley’s best work … this disc has an admirable program … Finley makes a firm and pleasing sound and he can command the nuances when necessary … Julius Drake’s accompaniments strike me as right and are a pleasure to hear' (Fanfare, USA)

'A CD of Barber's songs may, on the surface, seem like too much of a good thing, until you listen to Finley's magisterial survey … using his handsome baritone to explore the Britten-esque lyricism of the Hermit songs and the Francophone poetry of his Mélodies passagères' (Financial Times)

'Hearing the Hermit Songs in a man's voice, this man's voice, is little short of a revelation … there's a world of feeling in these 10 songs, and Finley, accompanied throughout by pianist Julius Drake in a way that would make Barber proud, burrows deeply into every niche … I held my breath before 'Sure on this shining night', my favorite Barber song of all, an ecstatic setting of a rapturous James Agee poem that's harder to bring off than its simple, swelling lines would suggest. Finley hit it out of the park' (Bay Area Reporter, USA)

'[Finley's] warm timbre, technical facility, fluid, natural phrasing, and conscientious expression brings an easy, unforced clarity to the texts, ideally characterizing each song without distracting mannerisms or undue dramatic inflections … it would be hard to imagine performances more purely beautiful, sensitive, and true to the music and poetry than Finley's' (Classics Today)
Barber’s settings of poems from James Joyce’s Chamber Music, published in 1939 as his Three Songs Op 10, are sophisticated and developed utterances. In Rain has fallen the plashing right-hand piano figures, illustrative of the falling rain, are poised above ambiguous, impressionistic harmonies that suggest the act of memory in which the poet is engaged, and they are developed to carry the song’s passionate climax in its stormy piano outburst. Sleep now is a very unquiet lullaby, with the ‘voice of the winter’ evoked in angular, declamatory piano figures in the central section. The song’s F sharp minor tonality only resolves to a tranquil F major in the final bars. There follows one of Barber’s most impressive achievements in the voice-and-piano medium. I hear an army is an onomatopoeic tour de force, the superbly imaginative piano part evoking the thunder of horses, the calls of trumpets, and the surge of the sea. It rises to a sustained, anguished outcry at ‘My love, my love, why have you left me alone?’.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2007

Publiés en 1939, les Three Songs, op. 10 mettent en musique des poèmes tirés de Chamber Music de James Joyce. Dans Rain has fallen, les clapotantes figures pianistiques à la main droite, illustration de la pluie qui tombe, sont suspendues au-dessus d’harmonies impressionnistes ambiguës suggérant l’acte de mémoire dans lequel le poète est engagé; elles sont développées jusqu’à véhiculer le climax passionné de l’œuvre dans sa houleuse explosion pianistique. Sleep now est une berceuse très inquiète, où la «voix de l’hiver» se manifeste dans les anguleuses figures pianistiques déclamatoires de la section centrale. Et il faut attendre les dernières mesures pour que le fa dièse mineur de cette mélodie se résolve en un paisible fa majeur. S’ensuit l’une des plus impressionnantes pièces pour voix et piano jamais écrites par Barber: I hear an army, tour de force onomatopéique dans lequel la partie de piano, superbement inventive, évoque tout à la fois le fracas des chevaux, les appels des trompettes et le déferlement de la mer. Elle s’élève jusqu’à ce hurlement soutenu, angoissé: «Mon amour, mon amour, pourquoi m’as-tu laissé seul?».

extrait des notes rédigées par Calum MacDonald © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Barbers Vertonungen von Gedichten aus James Joyces Chamber Music („Kammermusik“), die 1939 als seine Drei Lieder op. 10 veröffentlicht wurden, sind bereits komplexere und weiter ausgebildete Äußerungen. In Rain has fallen schweben plätschernde Figuren in der rechten Hand des Klaviers, die den rieselnden Regen illustrieren, über zweideutigen impressionistischen Harmonien, die den Akt der Erinnerung andeuten, mit dem der Dichter gerade beschäftigt ist; sie werden so entwickelt, dass sie das Lied in seinem leidenschaftlichen Höhepunkt in einem stürmischen Ausbruch des Klaviers tragen. Sleep now ist ein ganz unruhiges Wiegenlied, in dem „die Stimme des Winters“ durch kantige deklamatorische Klavierfiguren im Mittelteil evoziert wird. Die fis-Moll-Tonalität des Liedes löst sich in den letzten Takten in ein ruhiges F-Dur auf. Dann folgt eine der eindruckvollsten Leistungen Barbers im Medium Singstimme und Klavier. I hear an army ist eine onomatopöische Tour de Force, deren überwältigend einfallsreiche Klavierstimme donnernde Pferde, Trompetenfanfaren und das Schwallen des Meeres wachrufen. Es steigert sich zu einem anhaltenden Schmerzensschrei für „My love, my love, why have you left me alone?“.

aus dem Begleittext von Calum MacDonald © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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