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Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
Complete Songs
Tassis Christoyannis (baritone); Jeff Cohen (piano)
rec. 2018/19 Palazzetto Bru Zane, Venice, Italy
Full French libretto with English translation provided
BRU ZANE BZ2002 [4 CDs: 253.09]

This is a welcome new set of the complete songs of Reynaldo Hahn, many of which are listed as world première recordings. I place Hahn, as one of the foremost composers of the mélodie, the French art song, in such elevated company as Fauré, Duparc, Chausson and Poulenc. A Venezuelan by birth but of Jewish heritage, at the age of ten Hahn entered the Paris Conservatoire. His teachers included Charles Gounod, Camille Saint-Saëns and notably Massenet, who taught him composition. Although he arrived in France aged four, it was not until nearly thirty-five years later that Hahn was granted French citizenship.

Described in the notes as being an ‘emblematic figure of the Belle Époque, a link between Romanticism and the Anneés Folles’, while still a boy the precocious Hahn was welcomed into fashionable and well-connected Paris salons such as that belonging to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte (niece of Napoleon I, cousin of Napoleon III and related to Emperor Nicholas I of Russia), where he sang and accompanied himself on piano.

Throughout his creative period 1888-1934, Hahn regularly wrote his mélodies which are contained in various volumes, collections and separate magazine publications and Bru Zane have gathered all 170 together for this complete set. Half are contained in just four sets: Première recueil, Second recueil, Les feuilles blessées and Troisième volume. Several are particularly well-known, including the early work Si mes vers avaient des ailes (Hugo), L’Heure exquise (Verlaine), D’une prison (Verlaine), Quand je fus pris au pavillon (d’Orleans) and À Chloris (de Viau).

The partnership of Greek baritone Tassis Christoyannis and American pianist Jeff Cohen has here recorded all Hahn’s mélodies in over four hours of music. In truth, I am a little disappointed that a single singer was chosen to record this large and comprehensive set, although on reflection that is not so surprising considering that Hahn was himself a baritone and a number of celebrated baritones, all acknowledged as masters of French songs, included Hahn mélodies in their recital programmes - notably Gabriel Bacquier, Pierre Bernac, Charles Panzéra and Gérard Souzay. However, the set would have been far more appealing had singers of different voice types been used, as over time it can become wearing to hear a single voice, as with such a large collection of mélodies requiring a wide range of emotional states, I was often left wanting greater extremes of expression from the voice, including an additional sense of intimacy. Having said that, I admit that Christoyannis is in splendid form. His strong, warm tone and excellent phrasing stand out like beacons and with the sensitive piano accompaniment from Jeff Cohen one senses the strength of the relationship with the voice.

Christoyannis and Cohen were recorded over a number of sessions at the Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice. The engineering team has provided first class sound, notable for its clarity and being pleasingly consistent across the set. As usual, the Bru Zane booklet notes are exemplary. A pair of introductory essays ‘Reynaldo Hahn revealed at last’ by Alexandre Dratwicki, ‘The songs of Reynaldo Hahn: an overview’ by Sylvain P. Labertette are provided together with a 1935 article ‘On singing in general’ by Reynaldo Hahn. French sung texts are included with English translations. 

It is pleasing to hear again in this comprehensive set old favourites such as the exquisite À Chloris and Si mes vers avaient des ailes and to become acquainted with so many works heard for the first time. Christoyannis is in engaging form, accompanied in sterling fashion by Cohen, making it a delight to dip into this collection.

Michael Cookson

CD 1 [55.40]
Études latines
01- Néère [no.2]
02- Salinum [no.3]
03- Lydé [no.5]
04- Vile potabis [no.6]
05- Tyndaris [no.7]
06- Pholoé [no.8]
07- Phyllis [no.10]
08- Sopra l’acqua indormenzada [no.1]
09- La barcheta [no.2]
10- L’avertimento [no.3]
11- La Biondina in gondoleta [no.4]
12- Che pecà! [no.5]
13- La primavera [no.6]
Chansons grises
14- Chanson d’automne [no.1]
15- Tous deux [no.2]
16- L’Allée est sans fin [no.3]
17- En sourdine [no.4]
18- L’Heure exquise [no.5]
19- Paysage triste [no.6]
20- La Bonne Chanson [no.7]
Unpublished mélodies
21- Adoration (Hymne à Cléo)
22- Fleur de mon âme
La Dame aux camélias
23- Mon rêve était d’avoir un amant [no.1]
24- C’est à Paris! [no.2]
25- Au fil de l’eau [no.3]
CD 2 [66.40]
Premier recueil
01- Rêverie [no.1]
02- Si mes vers avaient des ailes [no.2]
03- Mai [no.3]
04- Paysage [no.4]
05- L’Énamourée [no.5]
06- Seule [no.6]
07- La Nuit [no.7]
08- Offrande [no.8]
09- Trois Jours de vendange [no.9]
10- Infidélité [no.10]
11- Fêtes galantes [no.11]
12- Cimetière de campagne [no.12]
13- Fleur fanée [no.13]
14- L’Incrédule [n.14]
15- Les Cygnes [no.15]
16- D’une prison [no.16]
17- Dernier Voeu [no.17]
18- Séraphine [no.18]
19- Nocturne [no.19]
20- Je me metz en vostre mercy [n.2]
21- Le Printemps [no.3]
22- L’Air [no.4]
23- La Paix [no.5]
24- La Pêche [no.7]
25- Quand je fus pris au pavillon [no.8]
26- Les Étoiles [no.9]
27- L’Automne [no.10]
28- Le Souvenir d’avoir chanté [no.12]
CD 3 [65.18]
Les Feuilles blessées
01- Dans le ciel est dressé le chêne séculaire [no.1]
02- Encor sur le pavé sonne mon pas nocturne [no.2]
03- Quand reviendra l’automne avec ses feuilles mortes [no.3]
04- Belle Lune d’argent [no.4]
05- Quand je viendrai m’asseoir [no.5]
06- Eau printanière [no.6]
07- Donc, vous allez fleurir encor [no.7]
08- Compagne de l’éther [no.8]
09- Pendant que je médite [no.9]
10- Roses en bracelet [no.10]
11- Aux rayons du couchant [no.11]
Second recueil
12- Quand la nuit n’est pas étoilée [no.1]
13- Cantique (sur le bonheur des justes et le malheur des réprouvés) [no.2]
14- La Délaissée [no.3]
15- La Chère Blessure [no.4]
16- Théone [no.5]
17- Chanson au bord de la fontaine [no.8]
18- Sur l’eau [no.9]
19- Les Fontaines [no.13]
20- À Chloris [no.14]
21- Le Rossignol des lilas [no.15]
22- À nos morts ignorés [no.16]
23- Ma jeunesse [no.17]
24- Le plus beau présent [no.18]
25- Puisque j’ai mis ma lèvre [no.19]
26- La douce paix [no.20]
CD 4 [65.31]
Troisième volume
01- Aimons-nous! [no.1]
02- À une étoile [no.2]
03- Dans l’été [no.3]
04- Au pays musulman [no.4]
05- Oh! For the wings of a dove! [no.8]
06- Adieu [no.9]
07- J’ai caché dans la rose en pleurs [no.10]
08- Naguère, au temps des églantines [no.11]
09- Danse, petite sirène [from incidental music to Méduse] [no.12]
10- Le Marchand de marrons [no.13]
11- Vocalise-Étude (Souvenir de Constantinople) [no.17]
Neuf mélodies retrouvées
12- Je me souviens [no.1]
13- La Vie est belle [no.2]
14- L’Amitié [no.3]
15- Chanson [no.4]
16- Naïs [no.5]
17- La Nymphe de la source [no.6]
18- Au rossignol [no.7]
19- Ta main [no.8]
20- Sous l’oranger (Tango habanera) [no.9]
Five Little Songs
21- The Swing [no.1]
22- Windy Night [no.2]
23- My Ship and I [no.3]
24- The Stars [no.4]
25- A Good Boy [no.5]
Love without Wings
26- Ah! Could I clasp thee in mine arms [no.1]
27- The Fallen Oak [no.2]
28- I know you love me not [no.3]



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