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Track(s) taken from CDA67728

Deux mélodies hébraïques

1914; commissioned by Alvina Alvi
author of text
traditional Jewish prayer

Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Recording details: July 2008
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2009
Total duration: 6 minutes 9 seconds

Cover artwork: The Talisman, or The Swallow-hole in the Bois d'Amour, Pont-Aven (1888) by Paul Serusier (1864-1927)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris / Giraudon / Bridgeman Images


‘Ravel's sense of colour and atmosphere is infallible … Finley's mellifluous, malleable baritone is an ideal match for this repertoire, with lines eloquently floated, nuances subtly voiced and character sensitively defined. This is a beguiling programme, beautifully performed’ (Gramophone)

‘It feels inadequate just to describe this enchanting new collection from Gerald Finley and Julius Drake as the best modern recital devoted to the wonderfully varied world of Ravel's songs … Julius Drake's warm-toned playing is, as ever, a perfect foil, all captured in Hyperion's wonderful sound. Riches indeed’ (BBC Music Magazine)

‘These are for the most part works of cool restraint, with passion hidden beneath a jewelled surface, and Finley's wonderfully flexible voice achieves maximum effect with minimal means … Drake's playing is a marvel of delicacy and almost gamelan-like sonorities’ (The Daily Telegraph)

‘It's a beautiful disc that startles in ways you don't always expect … the poetic restraint of Finley's singing and Drake's playing are spellbinding. The settings of Marot and Ronsard are ravishingly done, and the mixture of irony and sadness they bring to Histoires naturelles is exceptional’ (The Guardian)

‘These are songs that deserve to be better known … there are wonderful settings of prose poems by Jules Renard in which the peacock parades, a swan glides across glittering water and a kingfisher perches on a fisherman's rod. Drake relishes Ravel's iridescent piano parts, shifting imperceptibly from picture-painting to psychological comment … [Don Quichotte] magnificently performed by Finley and Drake, these grand mélodies … are a compelling miniature drama in three acts … Finley matches Drake song for song, the naïve knight, the ardent lover and, in 'Chanson épique', a grave and gravelly voice for this most principled of heroes … every track on this fine CD is proof that Ravel … was a composer who rose to a given musical occasion with consummate artistry, conviction and originality’ (International Record Review)

‘Gerald Finley seems to have found his métier here, singing with an enlightened sense of vocal agility and also fidelity to the textual nuances of Ravel's music. This is one of the best Ravel recitals I have heard in a long time (and they don't come often) so if this composer and his songs have any meaning for you at all, grab this disc quick. Julius Drake adds his normally sensitive partnership in music that is truly written for two’ (Audiophile Audition, USA)

‘Gerald Finley dares to tackle and all-Ravel program, and it only takes a few selections to recognize his mastery … the Key here is the Canadian's entirely natural approach, free of affectation or overinterpretation and supported by a voice of consistent beauty, warmth and flexibility … what emerges is not just a great display of vocal artistry, style, diction and characterization’ (Opera News)
The success of the Chanson hébraïque led in 1914 to a commission from Alvina Alvi, a soprano with the St Petersburg Opera, to harmonize two further Hebrew melodies. Kaddisch (in Aramaic, ‘qaddish’) is a liturgical chant, the Magnificat of the synagogue service, but also sung by mourners after the death of a close relative. The mood is one of contained ecstasy, and tension is built out of the jarring between the melismata of the voice and the simple accompaniment with its unremitting G naturals. L’énigme éternelle is, by contrast, squarely metrical. The eternal puzzle of existence resolves into tra-la-las and the harshly repetitive accompaniment underlines the futility of pursuing the topic, in line with the composer’s agnostic stance that he found it hard enough to fathom his own motives without trying to understand those of a celestial Being.

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2009

Le succès de la Chanson hébraïque a donné lieu en 1914 à une commande d’Alvina Alvi, une soprano qui chantait à l’Opéra de Saint-Pétersbourg, commande consistant à harmoniser deux autres mélodies hébraïques. Kaddisch (en araméen, «qaddish») est un chant liturgique, le Magnificat de l’office de la synagogue, mais aussi chanté par les proches parents d’un défunt. C’est une atmosphère d’extase contenue et la tension repose sur la discordance entre les mélismes de la voix et la simplicité de l’accompagnement avec ses sol naturels persistants. En revanche, L’énigme éternelle est parfaitement métrique. L’éternel mystère de l’existence se résout en tra-la-la et la sévérité de l’accompagnement répétitif souligne la futilité d’un approfondissement du sujet, ce qui est conforme à la position agnostique du compositeur qui trouvait déjà assez difficile de pénétrer ses propres motivations sans chercher à comprendre celles d’un Être céleste.

extrait des notes rédigées par Roger Nichols © 2009
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Der Erfolg der Chanson hébraïque führte 1914 zu einem Auftrag von Alvina Alvi, eine Sopranistin an der Oper in St. Petersburg: Ravel möge noch zwei weitere hebräische Melodien harmonisieren. Kaddisch (auf Aramäisch: „qaddish“) ist ein liturgischer Gesang, sozusagen das Magnificat des Gottesdienstes in der Synagoge, das jedoch auch von Trauernden nach dem Tod eines engen Verwandten gesungen wird. Die Stimmung drückt eine kontrollierte Ekstase aus und Spannung wird durch Dissonanzen zwischen der Melismen der Stimme und durch die schlichte Begleitung mit ihren unermüdlichen Gs aufgebaut. L’énigme éternelle hingegen ist völlig metrisch aufgebaut. Das ewige Rätsel der Existenz löst sich in Tra-la-las auf und die barsche, repetitive Begleitung unterstreicht die Zwecklosigkeit, dieses Thema zu verfolgen, was sich mit der agnostischen Haltung des Komponisten deckt, dem es schon schwerfiel, seine eigenen Motive zu verstehen, geschweige denn diejenigen eines himmlischen Wesens.

aus dem Begleittext von Roger Nichols © 2009
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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