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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]

If, like me, you're a lover of mélodies, the accompanied French art song of the 19th and 20th centuries, then you'll welcome this 4 CD set with open arms. The composer is the Venezuelan-born Reynaldo Hahn. He was born in 1874 in Caracas of a Venezuelan mother and German father. The family moved to France when Reynaldo was four. His talent for music showed early and, at the young age of ten, he entered the Paris Conservatoire. His composition teachers included Théodore Dubois and Jules Massenet. Some of his finest songs were penned before his fifteenth year. He was not only a composer but also a conductor and music critic. He remained in France for the remainder of his life, apart from several years during the Second World War when, as a Jew, he left Paris for Toulon, then Monte Carlo. He took up French citizenship in 1907, and died in 1947.

This is the first time that the composer's 170 songs have been gathered together under one roof. No doubt, many of them are world première recordings, and a large proportion derive from four published sets: Première recueil, Second recueil, Les feuilles blessées and Troisième volume.

Hopefully, this release will redress the injustices of the past, which unfairly footnoted Hahn as an unremarkable songsmith, in a lower league than Fauré, Duparc, Chausson and Poulenc. In truth, he was a gifted composer, maybe not as harmonically adventurous as some, but with a unique and original voice. He had a natural aptitude for setting texts, and the ability to spin delightful melodies. This abundance of lyricism not only brings to his songs sheer delight, but guarantees their ranking amongst the very best.

With this vast wealth of treasures to choose from, here's a handful of my particular favorites. The exquisite Si mes vers avaient des ailes to words by Victor Hugo was composed when he was only thirteen. I love the beautiful diaphanous shading Cohen brings to the piano part of L’heure exquise, and the gentle unruffled calm of Christoyannis’ vocal line. Trois jours de vendage is a narrative ballad. The staccato piano chords at the start evoke joy, with the illness and death of the beautiful girl vividly captured in the tolling bells at the end. Who could resist the shimmering glow of Les étoiles, with its climactic impact, or the lyrical largesse of the rhapsodic Quand la nuit n'est pas étoilée.

Tassis Christoyannis is one of the finest baritones around. The voice is flexible and well-modulated, with warmth, polish, power and depth. His command of French is impeccable, and his diction exemplary. He performs with great sensitivity in terms of nuance and inflection. Jeff Cohen is a marvellously responsive accompanist, and the two make a winning combination. They have previously collaborated for Palazzetto Bru Zane in the songs of Lalo, Gounod, Saint-Saëns and Benjamin Godard.

The songs were recorded over a two year period at the Palazzetto Bru Zane, Venice, a sympathetic venue providing a warmth, intimacy and clarity consistently throughout. Living up to its esteemed reputation, the label's production values are lavish by any standards. The 134 page booklet contains scholarly articles in English, French and German, and full French texts with English translation. This, together with the four discs in colourful card sleeves, fit snugly into a sturdy glossy box. I cannot praise this whole venture too highly.

Stephen Greenbank
Previous review: 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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