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Gabriel FAURÉ(1845-1924)
Full track details at close of review
Sarah Walker (mezzo-soprano)
Tom Krause (bass-baritone: CDs 3 & 4)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
rec. St Paul’s Church, New Southgate, London, various dates.
CRD 5004 [4 CDs: 63.20 + 67.34 + 66.48 + 59.55]

This is an exciting set, for many reasons. Those who know Fauré only from the Requiem and one or two other pieces would find much to enjoy here. This is music of delicacy and beauty. He wrote songs throughout his career – those for solo voice are all found here.

It is often helpful to understand Fauré as a superbly gifted miniaturist, able to capture moments of beauty in a few notes. His was a genius not afraid to be simple, to let text and the notes speak for themselves. He rarely lingers, very rarely indulges in repetition of the text, and seems to hear the music as an elucidation of the original rather than using text as a prop on which to build a quite separate work. Of the 93 Mélodies performed here, only seven are longer than four minutes, and most are under three.

The art of the miniaturist is a difficult one, especially given the emotional nature of so much of the verse. The poets chosen include some of the most significant writers in French literature, including Victor Hugo and Paul Verlaine as well as some lesser-known but gifted writers. Fauré gently puts his own mark on the texts by way of rearrangement. La bonne chanson, to verse by Verlaine, is perhaps, by a short head, the finest of his song cycles, setting nine poems from a sequence of twenty-one. I have noted in the listing the original numbers. The selection of poetry is in Fauré’s own sequence, which works exceptionally well as a cycle. Verlaine had addressed his poetry to his fiancée Mathilde Mauté de Fleurville. (When they married in 1870, he was twenty-five to her sixteen, but he abandoned her and their infant son in 1872 when he began his stormy affair with Arthur Rimbaud). The verse, created before the wedding is tender and loving, filled with both longings and moments of happiness. Fauré captures the mood ideally. The late Tom Krause, who shares the singing with Sarah Walker on the last two discs, sings with the artistry and sensitivity to text we remember and cherish.

This is music of high intelligence, demanding sensitive response from the performers. Both Walker and Krause were devoted and splendid recitalists, noted for their artistry, and this set is a splendid souvenir of those skills. But their work is more than supplemented by Malcolm Martineau, who captures so well the essence of the pianism of Fauré. Knowig his reputation as a programme-builder, I wonder how much of the sequence of pieces was his: each disc works very well as a self-contained recital. That is probably the best way to listen to this set, not least as each disc ranges across the years of Fauré’s active life. He is though one of those composers who found his voice relatively early, exploring that in an idiom which is then varied rather than developed into different phases. But his was a very rich seam to explore.

Documentation for the set is patchy. The first two CDs meticulously list opus numbers and dates, but volumes 3 and 4 do not, which is a pity. Recording dates are not given, but the single CDs were originally issued between 1992 and 2000. However, the notes by Felix Aprahamian are detailed and informative, and texts are included in both French and English (hooray! – other labels please note). This is essential to appreciate the genius of these works. A minor niggle is the flimsy box which contains the CDs, which was torn on delivery, and which irritatingly misspells ‘Malcolm’ as ‘Malcom’ throughout.

This is not a set to play straight through, but rather one worthy of continual revisiting. Its beauties repay repeated listening and I am very happy that it will have a home on my shelves next to Kathryn Stott’s wonderful recording on Hyperion of the complete piano music. At under £20, this set will give immense pleasure.

Michael Wilkinson

CD 1
Rêve d’amour (Victor Hugo) Op.5, No.2 (1862?) [2.29]
Aprés un rêve (Romaine Bussine) (1878?) [2.39]
L’aurore (Victor Hugo) (Op.posth.) (1871?) [1.14]
Tristesse (Théophile Gautier) Op.6. No.2 (1878) [2.41]
Le Secret (Armand Silvestre) Op.23. No. 3 (1880-81) [2.38]
Chant d’automne (Charles Baudelaire) Op.5, No.1 (1871?) [4.20]
Mai (Victor Hugo) Op.1, No.2 (1861?) [2.15]
Dans les ruines d’une abbaye (Victor Hugo) (1867) [1.44]
Les Présents (Villiers de l’Isle-Adam) Op.46. No.1. (1887) [1.44]
Nostre amour (Armand Silvestre) Op.23. No.2. (1879) [1.46]
La Rose (Leconte de Lisle) op.51. No.4. (1889-90) [2.33]
Soir (Albert Samain) Op.83, No.2 (1896) [2.03]
Le Ramier (Armand Silvestre) Op.87. No.2. [1.48]
Les Berceaux (Sully Prudhomme) Op.23. No.1 (1879) [2.57]
Le Jardin Clos (Charles van Lerberghe) Op.106 (1914)
Exaucement [1.01]
Quand tu plonge tes yeux dans mes yeux [1.17]
La Messagère [1.42]
Je me poserai sur ton Cœur [1.53]
Dans La Nymphée [2.53]
Dans la pénombre [1.24]
Il m’est cher, Amour, le bandeau [1.19]
Inscription sur le sble [1.54]
Nell (Leconte de Lisle) Op.18. No.1(1878) [1.45]
Dans la Forêt de Septembre (Catulle Mendès) Op.85. No.1 (1902) [3.17]
En Prière (Stephan Bordese) (1890) [1.57]
Noël (Victor Wilder) Op.43. No.1. (1886) [2.40]
La parfum impérissable (Leconte de Lisle) Op.76.No.1 (1897) [2.30]
Automme (Armand Silverstre) Op.18. No.3. (1878) [2.45]

CD 2
Le Papillon et la fleur (Victor Hugo) Op.1.No.1 (1861) [2.06]
Ici-bas! (Sully Prudhomme) Op.8. No.3. (1874?) [1.43]
Sérénade Toscane (Romain Bussine) Op.3 No.2 (1878?) [3.00]
Nocturne (Villiers de l’Isle Adam) Op.43. No.2 (1885-1886) [2.54]
Au bord de l’eau (Sully Prudhomme) Op.8. No.1. (1875) [2.13]
Seule! (Théophile Gautier) Op.3. No.1 (1871) [2.58]
Larmes (Jean Richepin) Op.51. No.1. (1888) [2.30]
Aurore (Armand Silvestre) Op.39. No.2 (1884) [2.20]
Fleur jetée (Armand Silvestre) Op.39. No.3 (1884)
Le Pays des rêves (Armand Silvestre) Op.39. No.3 (1884) [1.35]
Les Roses d’Ispahan (Leconte de Lisle) Op.39. No.4 (1884) [3.31]
Chanson (Henri de Régnier) Op.94 (1906) [1.15]
C’est la paix (D’après Georgette Debladis) Op.114 (1919) [1.22]
La fée aux chansons (Armand Silvestre) Op.27. No.2 (1882) [1.49]
L’absent (Victor Hugo) Op.5 No.3. (1871) [4.14]
Arpège (Albert Samain) Op.76. No.2 (1897) [2.49]
Le plus doux chemin (Armand Silvestre) Op.87. No.1. (1904 [1.29]
Accompagnement (Albert Samain) Op.85. No.3. (1902) [4.19]
Au Cimetière (Jean Richepin) Op.51. No.2 (1888) [4.12]
Le Don silencieux (Jean Dominique) Op.92 (1906) [2.16]
Chanson de Mélisande (Maurice Maeterlinck, trans J.W. Mackail) Op.Posth. (1898) [3.41]
Clair de lune (Paul Verlaine) Op.46. No.2 (1887) [3.15]
Vocalise (1907) [3.21]
Puisqu’ici bas toute âme (Victor Hugo) Op.10. No.1 (1873) [2.43]
Tarentelle (Marc Monnier) Op.10. No.2. (1873) [2.24]

CD 3
Les Matelots (Théophile Gautier) [1.26]
Aubade (Louis Pommey) [2.02]
Lydia (Leconte de Lisle) [2.52]
La chanson du pêcheur (Théophile Gautier) [3.08]
Sylvie (Paul de Choudens) [2.53]
La Rançon (Charles Baudelaire) [2.15]
Hymne (Charles Baudelaire) [2.30]
Poème d’un jour (Charles Grandmougin) (1881)
Rencontre [2.14]
Toujours [1.16]
Adieu [2.34]
Barcarolle (Marc Monnier) [2.50]
Chanson d’amour (Armand Silvestre) [2.12]
Chanson de ‘Shylock’ (Edmond Haraucourt) [1.42]
Madrigal de ‘Shylock’ (Edmond Haraucourt) [1.27]
La Fleur qui va sur l’eau (Catulle – Mendès) [2.07]
Le Voyageur (Armand Silvestre) [1.37]
Pleurs d’or (Albert Semain) [2.26]
Sérénade de ‘Bourgeois Gentilhomme’ (Moliére) [1.28]
Spleen (Paul Verlaine) [2.28]
Prison (Paul Verlaine) [2.18]
La Bonne Chanson (Paul Verlaine) (1895)
Une Sainte en son aureole (VIII) [2.21]
Puisque l’aube grandit (IV) [1.56]
Le lune blanche (VI) [2.22]
J’allais par des Chemins perfides (XX) [1.44]
J’ai presque peur (XV) [2.14]
Avant que tu ne t’en ailles (V) [2.50]
Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d’été (XIX) [2.19]
N’est-ce pas? (XVII) [2.27]
L’hiver a césse (XXI) [2.56]

CD 4
Cinq Melodies ‘De Venise’ (Paul Verlaine) Op.58 (1891)
Mandoline [1.47]
En sourdine [3.06]
Green [1.50]
A Clymène [2.27]
C’est l’extase [3.15]
Mirages (Renée de Brimant) (1919)
Cygne sur l’eau [3.31]
Reflets dans l’eau [4.31]
Jardin nocturne [3.08]
Danseuse [2.08]
La Chanson d’Ève (Charles van Lerberghe) (1910)
Paradis [7.13]
Prima verba [2.17]
Roses ardentes [1.30]
Comme Dieu rayonne [1.58]
L’aube blanche [1.28]
Eau vivante [1.19]
Veilles-tu, ma senteur … [1.43]
Dans un parfum de roses [1.50]
Crépuscule [2.26]
O mort, poussière d’étoiles [2.30]
L’Horizon Chimérique (Jean de la Ville de Mirmont) (1922)
La mere est infinie [1.32]
Je me suis embarqué [2.22]
Diane, Séléné … [2.01]
Vaisseaux … [1.48]



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