Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)
The Complete Songs - Volume 2
Lorna Anderson (3, 4, 8, 9, 13), John Chest (1, 19), Nigel Cliffe (7), Sarah Connolly (20 – 29), Iestyn Davies (17), Ben Johnson (5), Janis Kelly (2-4, 10), Ann Murray (6), Thomas Oliemans (11, 12, 14-16, 18)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
rec. 2013-15, All Saints’ Church, East Finchley, London
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD472 [68:53]
The first volume in this series was issued about a year ago (review), and when now volume 2 follows suite, we encounter principally the same line-up of singers. The only difference is that Joan Rodgers doesn’t participate on the present disc and Thomas Oliemans has been added. As before the songs are presented in rather random order, but those belonging to the same opus are often connected on the disc. The random order is, I believe, a way of building a programme that functions as a satisfying recital for continuous listening, but we miss the opportunity to follow the development of the composer. For most listeners I think that aspect is of secondary importance, and when the project is finished one can easily programme the songs in any order one likes.
Through the years I have come to like Fauré more and more, and even though I have a quite substantial collection of his songs – plus his complete oeuvre of piano music and quite a lot of his chamber music – it is always a treat to find little gems that I have previously missed or perhaps forgotten. There are also a couple of new ‘finds’. As in volume one there are some vocalises that Fauré wrote during his time as Director of the Paris Conservatoire for the sight-reading examinations. Between 1906 and 1916 he wrote at least 29 such vocalises, ranging from relatively simple to technically demanding. These exercises were unearthed quite recently by Roy Howat and Emily Kilpatrick and edited by them for publication by Peters in 2014. The two vocalises on this disc are, as before, allotted to Ann Murray and Lorna Anderson and they make the most of them. How many of the remaining 25 are worthy of inclusion in this series remains to be seen.
The heaviest burdens on the present disc rest upon Sarah Connolly and Thomas Oliemans. The former has the song cycle La chanson d’Eve to texts by the Symbolist poet Charles van Lerberghe. These are poems that shiver with fragrance and Fauré had qualms about his ability to ‘set words for God the Father and for his daughter Eve. It isn’t easy dealing with such important persons …’ He needn’t have worried. The words and the music are marvellously well interwoven and Sarah Connolly sings the cycle with the utmost sensitivity.
Almost nine years ago I reviewed a disc with the Dutch baritone Thomas Oliemans (review), where he sang Fauré and Poulenc, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau. I regarded him then as a natural heir to Gerard Souzay and further disc, including a great recording of Schubert’s Schwanengesang (also with Martineau) has confirmed this. The Shylock songs (11-12) are worthy testimony to his excellence. His voice has darkened ever so little – but so did Souzay’s as well. The melodious freshness of the young Fauré, so obvious in the songs at the beginning of this disc, was gradually replaced by more concern with subtle gradations and nuances in a more impressionist direction. This can be heard in the three songs Op. 85 (14-16) and also the contemporaneous Le ramier (18).
Lorna Anderson shows her prowess in two of the songs from Op. 23 (8-9) where she sings exquisitely. Le secret is truly beautiful. Together with the great Janis Kelly she also sings two duets: the charming and enthusiastic Tarantelle and the lovely Puisqu’ici-bas toute âme (3-4). Janis Kelly also sings the atmospheric L’aurore, a setting of Victor Hugo (2) and Armand Silvestre’s Le pays des rêves (10). John Chest, who was my find on the previous disc, has only two songs here, the beautiful Rêve d’amour (1) and the Baudelaire setting Hymne (19). Nigel Cliffe’s Barcarolle (7) is powerful and dramatic, Ben Johnson’s Aubade (5) elegant as is Iestyn Davies’s Le plus doux chemin (17).
Malcolm Martineau, the mastermind behind the project, is, as always, the ideal accompanist. Roger Nichols’s liner notes are a model and the recorded sound excellent. Readers who bought the first volume need not hesitate, and those who didn’t are well advised to try this second instalment before buying volume one.
1. Rêve d’amour Op. 5 No. 2 [2:45]
2. L’aurore [1:40]
3. Tarentelle Op. 10 No. 2 [2:33]
4. Puisq’ici-bas toute âme Op. 10 No. 1 [3:10]
5. Aubade Op. 6 No. 1 [2:19]
6. Vocalise No. 7 [1:04]
7. Barcarolle Op. 7 No. 3 [2:43]
8. Notre amour Op. 23 No. 2 [1:58]
9. Le secret Op. 23 No. 3 [2:42]
10. Le pays des rêves Op. 39 No. 3 [4:02]
Shylock Op. 57:
11. No. 1 Chanson [1:37]
12. No. 2 Madrigal [1:31]
13. Vocalise 22 [0:55]
14. Dans la forêt de septembre Op. 85 No. 1 [3:40]
15. La fleur qui va sur l’eau Op.85 No. 2 [2:16]
16. Accompagnement Op. 85 No. 3 [4:10]
17. Le plus doux chemin Op. 87 No. 1 [1:26]
18. Le ramier Op. 87 No. 2 [1:48]
19. Hymne Op. 7 No. 2 [2:32]
La chanson d’Eve, Op. 95:
20. No. I. Paradis [6:47]
21. No. II. Prima verba [2:35]
22. No. III. Roses ardentes [1:32]
23. No. IV. Comme Dieu rayonne [1:46]
24. No. V. L’aube blanche [1:23]
25. No. VI. Eau vivante [1:19]
26. No. VII. Veilles-tu, ma senteur de soleil? [1:42]
27. No. VIII. Dans un parfum de roses blanches [1:59]
28. No. IX. Crépuscule [2:16]
29. No. X. Ô mort, poussière d’étoiles [2:38]