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Track(s) taken from CDA67141/2

Le rossignol des lilas

First line:
Ô premier rossignol qui viens
author of text

Dame Felicity Lott (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: 1 minutes 57 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)
Le rossignol des lilas is a rondel and might easily have been included in the Douze Rondels had Hahn wanted to issue an updated edition (Treize Rondels?) of that work in 1913. As in the settings of Banville (but to much less of an extent than in the settings of Charles d’Orléans) Hahn employs enough of the pasticheur’s art to suggest the elegance of a fifteenth-century poetic form at the same time as using the full resources of the piano to engender a romantic warmth. This song is one of Hahn’s loveliest creations—and most unusual in that the vocal line and the piano are welded together throughout (the one frequently doubling the other). The composer’s usual custom is to invent an accompanying figuration (often wherein lies the most interesting of the song’s tunes); once this is established the vocal lines are made to weave in and out of the piano’s texture often in the manner of speech. But here the plan is different: this is something like an aria, a real melody for the voice supported throughout, almost quaver for quaver, by the piano. The song has a middle section at ‘Nocturne ou matinal’ and a ravishing postlude derived from the main melody. The shape of the song shows beyond doubt Hahn’s experience in the world of operetta where the voice has to carry the main melody, which has to be instantly memorable.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

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