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Track(s) taken from CDA66856


First line:
Ô Nuit! que j'aime ton mystère
author of text
probably from an opera libretto written for Lully

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: 3 minutes 10 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)
In the course of his researches into eighteenth-century opera (he was an expert particularly on the works of Rameau) Saint-Saëns probably unearthed this text from the libretto of a little-known opera. It seems a curious choice for a song composed in 1900, and unlike various other settings of seventeenth-century poets there is no attempt here to colour the harmonie language with a suggestion of archaic old-world charm. This is rather an experimental song, seemingly conservative, but containing certain harmonie twists which show that the composer has acknowledged, however unwillingly, that he has entered the twentieth century. Saint-Saëns was a champion of Richard Strauss in this period of his life, and in 1899, a year before this song appeared, Strauss had published a group of songs which included the celebrated Wiegenlied. The pianist, once he has thought of this connection, is on familiar ground, for this seems to be a homage to Strauss, modelled on the rippling demisemiquavers in 3/4 of Wiegenlied, with a similarly sumptuous seraphic vocal line afloat above the piano. If this song is not quite as memorable as its famous model, it has a flavour that one will not find elsewhere in the mélodie. It is a genuine attempt by Saint-Saëns to write a song in Lieder fashion where an incessantly repetitive figuration binds the work together—the calm and spacious melody all the more hypnotic because of the gentle undulations in the accompaniment beneath it.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1997

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