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CD Review

Gabriel Fauré

The Complete Songs - Volume 2

Un paysage choisi
(A chosen landscape)
  • Mai Op. 1 #2
  • Puisqu'ici-bas toute âme Op. 10 #1
  • Dans les ruines d'une abbaye Op. 2 #1
  • Lydia Op. 4 #2
  • L'absent Op. 5 #3
  • Chant d'automne Op. 5 #1
  • Tristesse Op. 6 #2
  • Après un rêve Op. 7 #1
  • Le voyageur Op. 18 #2
  • Sérénade toscane Op. 3 #2
  • Automne Op. 18 #3
  • La fée aux chansons Op. 27 #2
  • Noël Op. 43 #1
  • Clair de lune Op. 46 #2
  • Spleen Op. 51 #3
  • Il est né, le divin enfant
  • En prière
  • Prison Op. 83 #1
  • Dans la forêt de septembre Op. 85 #1
  • Chanson Op. 94
  • Le jardin clos Op. 106
Felicity Lott, Stella Doufexis, Geraldine McGreevy, Jennifer Smith - soprano
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, tenor
Christopher Maltman, Stephen Varcoe - baritone
Graham Johnson, piano
Hyperion CDA67334 68m DDD
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Volume 1 - Volume 3 - Volume 4

At the beginning of the year, Hyperion informed us that during 2005, they will be issuing Fauré's complete song output on 4 CDs. Come April and Volume 2 is already available, a confirmation of the seriousness of this label that promises and delivers in the true sense of the word. This second instalment is as bewitching as the first with songs reflecting the various yearly seasons as well as atmospheric pieces depicting the landscapes of Tuscany and Versailles as well as rain-soaked London together with the chastening austerity of a monk's cell in Belgium.

The recital comprises 20 songs and another 8 relating to the cycle, 'Le jairdin dos' (the walled garden), Op. 106. Fauré compared this cycle in 1914 to the poetry of Charles Van Lerbeghe. This was not the first time that Fauré had set this poet's verses to music as in 1906 he composed 10 such poems from the 'La chanson d'Eve' collection. In the former compositions, Lerberghe's poems sound dated and mannered but Fauré was so moved by them that he was inspired into writing some of his most powerfully lyrical pieces, and this in spite of his age.

'Le jardin dos' is full of mystic symbols and changing places, a walled garden, the sea rocked by the rhythms of space and waves, deep in the grotto and the pale sounds (perhaps of ancient Egypt). The inspiration behind this cycle, Graham Johnson has gathered together 8 of the very finest interpreters of French song that could be assembled. I will not single out any of them as I do not want to be guilty of any indiscretions, but they all sing their pieces with that French feeling which is so passionately refined and at the same time, delicately fragile. The superb annotations by the same Graham Johnson are compellingly informative and together with the original poems and English translations, this disc is another exciting issue in Hyperion's French Song Edition.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech