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Track(s) taken from CDA66856

Chanson 'Nouvelle chanson sur un vieil air'

First line:
S'il est un charmant gazon
early, unpublished
author of text
Les chants du crépuscule (No 22)

François Le Roux (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: January 1996
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: January 1997
Total duration: 2 minutes 47 seconds

Cover artwork: À l'ombres des bosquets chante un jeune poète by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891)
Reproduced by permission of The Wallace Collection, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'This is the most resounding blow yet to be struck for the mélodies of Saint-Saëns … Le Roux is one of the most charismatic performers of our time … this is certainly one of the best things he has done so far. A double welcome for performers and rare repertory' (Gramophone)

'Musical jewels surface with delightful consistency in this 27-song recital. An absorbing and revelatory disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'There's hardly a dud among these 30-or-so songs on this well filled, perfectly recorded disc, an ideal accompaniment to a hot summer evening' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Another immensely pleasant recital from Hyperion, both in content and performance. [François Le Roux] is establishing himself as the leading French baritone of the day' (Classic CD)

'François Le Roux est l'interprète prédestiné. Son intelligence des mots, son sens de la juste inflexion font ici merveille' (Diapason, France)

'Apoya magnificamente al baritono, firmando entre ambos un trabajo auténticamente digno de conocerse. Sonido exemplar' (CD Compact, Spain)
A charming bit of fun this, devilishly difficult to play with its leaping basses and chords which take unexpected harmonic directions. The song has not been published and is one of the undated pieces of the composer’s juvenilia in the Bibliothèque Nationale. (It is titled simply as Chanson on the manuscript.) Both César Franck and Liszt set this poem to music with a greater sense of tenderness and romance. A certain sanctimonious quality (some of Hugo’s lyrics brought this out in his composers) sets in with both these masters’ work, but it is mercifully lacking here. The idea of ‘soul uniting with soul’ has not touched Saint-Saëns to any great degree, but the music is fun, having the feeling of a galop, with more than a touch of Offenbach to it. If anything, one is reminded of the deliberately iconoclastic setting of Poulenc’s Air Vif where the lofty Parnassian poetry of Moréas is wickedly sent up to delicious effect. Saint-Saëns means nothing so disrespectful here, but the ‘charmant gazon’ is certainly transferred from the Elysian Fields of the spirit to the Champs Elysées.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997

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