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Track(s) taken from CDA67133/4

Chants d'oiseaux

First line:
Que nous chantons nos amours
author of text

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: March 2001
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: July 2002
Total duration: 1 minutes 20 seconds

Cover artwork: L'Intrigue Nocturne by Gaston de Latouche (1854-1913)
Sotheby’s Picture Library


'[A] real treasure of a treasury' (BBC Music Magazine)

'I cannot begin to tell you what delights await you on these discs … irresistible gems of melody, wit and tenderness. The enterprise has clearly been a labour of love for all involved' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Here is something so joyous and heart-warming that it's difficult to know where to start … anyone with a love of French music and poetry will find this a knock-out pleasure' (International Record Review)

'Adorable indeed … these songs steal into the heart. This is a set made for a lifetime's listening and enjoyment' (The Times)

'Both CDs are packed with gems, most of them rarities … a three-star issue for Chabrier's adorable music, Johnson's de luxe documentation and Lott's delightful singing' (The Sunday Times)

‘[Chabrier’s] 43 gorgeous songs find ideal interpreters on these two discs; the voices are beautifully limpid and the phrasing is exquisite’ (Classic FM Magazine)

‘there are major discoveries to be made here’ (Fanfare, USA)

'If you like French song this album is a treasure trove' (Financial Times)

‘Quite a serious treat for aficionados of the great French master especially as the performances by sopranos Lott and McGreevy are totally flawless and delivered with great charm and confidence throughout … Hugely enjoyable’ (AdLib)

‘the splendid group of artists here assembled get to the heart of every piece’ (Musical Opinion)

‘this superbly-produced set of his complete melodies should be welcomed by all’ (Classics Today)
The pulsating chords in B flat major with which this song begins would encourage a Schubertian to believe that he was about to hear a performance of the divine Nachthelle for tenor and male chorus. In fact what follows is shorter, but hardly less delicious. This song is one of Chabrier’s earliest masterpieces – a perfect example of his musical conjuring. His later animal songs are justly famous, and here we have their precursor, a song for the birds who, perched on their branches, are in a position to comment on the ups and downs of a human love-affair. For the first time on this disc we have a song where the composer insists on a hushed atmosphere, a mood on musical tiptoe which suits the voyeuristic delight of the winged observers.

The markings seldom rise above pianissimo and the piece dies away in ppp. The melody is somewhat like a schoolyard jingle or nursery-rhyme, simple music for bird-brains and absolutely enchanting nevertheless. What surrounds the melody is more sophisticated: subtly harmonised chords in the twittering right-hand music and a doubling of the vocal melody in the left hand, a dangerous device which Chabrier, like Ravel after him, is able to use to the most eloquent effect. Here such doublings suggest suspense and intrigue. As with all the songs from this period the composer has a penchant for high held notes which are turned into pedal points underneath which the piano writing moves in unexpected directions. Add to this concoction such Chabrierian trademarks as rumbling tremolos deep in the bass (still pianissimo), staccato left-hand chords like pizzicato strings, sudden elongations of phrases (the insertion of bars in 4/16), and we have a song which could have been written by no one else.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2002

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