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Track(s) taken from CDA67333

C'est la paix, Op 114

First line:
Pendant qu’ils étaient partis pour la guerre
8 December 1919, published in Le Figaro on 10 October 1920
author of text

Jennifer Smith (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: January 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2005
Total duration: 1 minutes 21 seconds


'Hyperion's sound is impeccable and in both his playing and accompanying essay, Graham Johnson penetrates to the heart of one of music's most subtle and enigmatic geniuses' (Gramophone)

'There can be nothing but praise for Johnson's pianism and his selection and arrangement of the songs. Volumes 3 and 4 are eagerly awaited' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Johnson's own fluent playing finds the right tempo for each song, and his booklet notes are invaluable. Those who already love a handful of Fauré's songs will make many worthwhile discoveries here' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It sounds as if Hyperion is inviting us to embark on what will become a deeply satisfying voyage' (International Record Review)

'A dozen individual songs on aqueous themes are shared by a distinguished line-up of mostly British singers. As ever in Hyperion's song surveys, the piano accompaniments and the written documentation are immaculately presented by Graham Johnson' (The Guardian)

'Johnson's vignette-studded notes, encompassing the poems with idiomatic translations, make a consistently engaging cornucopia worth at least the price of admission and whose wide-ranging erudition will afford surprises even to close students of the period' (Fanfare, USA)
It was Fauré’s unenviable task, as critic of Le Figaro, to set to music a poem that had won the newspaper’s prize for the best poem about peace. The composer had already avoided a commission for a work celebrating the allied victory. Fauré regarded this text by someone otherwise unknown in the world of literature as a ‘horrible little poem’. In the end the composer, as Nectoux puts it, salvaged his self-respect; he was even rather proud of the result, calling it ‘a small tour de force’. Dotted rhythms pervade the music which recalls the music for Ulysses’ triumphant return in Pénélope. Yet it is clear that Fauré, unlike his rabidly anti-German mentor Saint-Saëns, is no triumphalist. It takes some time for the rejoicing tonality of A major to be established, and even then he manages to overcome any jingoistic bluster in favour of gratitude and relief. Built into this somewhat muted music there is a veil of sadness, a comment on the pointlessness and waste of the whole terrible episode. The prize-winning poetess must have been furious; she objected mightily to the composer cutting her poem in half and replacing the patriotic slang ‘poilus’ with the simple word ‘soldats’.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2005

En sa qualité de critique du Figaro, Fauré se vit confier la tâche peu enviable de mettre en musique un texte lauréat du prix du meilleur poème sur la paix décerné par le journal. Le compositeur, qui avait déjà échappé à la commande d’une œuvre célébrant la victoire alliée, considérait ce texte, d’une personne par ailleurs inconnue du monde littéraire, comme un «horrible petit poème». À la fin, nous apprend Nectoux, il retrouva son amour-propre et fut même plutôt fier du résultat, le qualifiant de «petit tour de force». Les rythmes pointés envahissent la musique, qui n’est pas sans rappeler le retour triomphant d’Ulysse dans Pénélope. Il est toutefois patent que Fauré n’est pas triomphaliste, contrairement à son mentor Saint-Saëns, farouchement antiallemand. Il faut un certain temps pour instaurer la tonalité réjouissante de la majeur et, même une fois cela fait, Fauré parvient à surmonter toute fanfaronnade cocardière, lui préférant la gratitude et le soulagement. Un voile de tristesse, commentaire sur l’inutilité et le gâchis de tout ce terrible épisode, est intégré à cette musique quelque peu en sourdine. La lauréate, furieuse, protesta vivement contre le fait que Fauré coupa son poème en deux et remplaça le patriotique «poilus» par un simple «soldats».

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 2005
Français: Hypérion

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