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Track(s) taken from CDA67141/2


First line:
Dans un baiser, l'onde au rivage
author of text

Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: December 1995
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown & Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: June 1996
Total duration: 2 minutes 14 seconds

Cover artwork: Two Angels (c1870) by Charles Sellier (1830-1882)


'What treasures are here … the two discs provide an unmissable opportunity to explore a composer who is underrated and overlooked perhaps because he was too modest about himself. There are melodies here which Massenet, Debussy, Fauré and Ravel would have been proud to call their own. No one can fail to have their musical horizon broadened by these discs, which will assuredly come high among my Records of the Year, any year … these discs have given me as much pleasure as any I have heard this year … to hear Felicity Lott in Les étoiles, Susan Bickley in Offrande and Ian Bostridge in Tyndaris is to relish some of the most accomplished vocal artistry of the day' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Some fascinating rarities' (Gramophone)

'To wonderful songs … [the artists] bring delicacy, grace, an emotion the more poignant for being understated … Not to be missed' (The Observer)

'This gorgeous set … Irresistible' (The Sunday Times)

'This is music for the intellect, interpreted with the utmost sensitivity' (Hi-Fi News)

'Ces chanteurs brittaniques interprètent ces petits bijoux avec soin touchant. Par la qualité du phrasé, ils lui restituent sa qualité essentielle, le sens du mot et de la ligne mélodique' (Répertoire, France)

'Graham Johnson choisir ses chanteurs qui possèdent une musicalité irréprochable et un français non seulement intelligible mais évocateur—et de les accompanger avec tant de poésie' (Diapason, France)
Seule (like Infidélité, the text is by Gautier) shows the influence of Fauré’s early mélodies. Indeed Fauré had published a setting of this poem as early as 1871. Hahn does not permit himself to copy the manner of Fauré’s song; indeed he goes to the opposite extreme of consciously avoiding any similarity to Fauré’s rather static setting. Rather is this moto perpetuo inspired by the turbulence of a song like Toujours from the Poème d’un jour. Like Wolf, who chose not to set poems that he felt had been put into music for all time by Schubert, Hahn tended to avoid poems that he felt had been truly understood by Fauré. (We have to remember that Hahn’s Chansons grises predate Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson by some years.) In this case we have to judge Hahn’s Seule a greater success than the older composer’s. The third strophe with its mournful recitative (in contrast to the hectic opening) is particularly successful, as is the sombre depth of the vocal line at ‘morne et profonde’. The return of the flowing triplets for ‘Sombre Hellespont’ gives a watery flow to the final page.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

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