Imagine a world without the songs of Gabriel Fauré if you can. I can’t. He published mélodies over the course of 60 years, and leading up to the twentieth century, they became miracles of austere but sensuous beauty. They seem made for older people to understand. I don’t recall the first time I heard the meme “bye bye boomers” a propos of the current epidemic, but I know that it hurt a little at the time. Now, I hear it as dark satire, and it’s OK. We seniors are, however, thinking a little more about the autumn of our lives; “Dans la forêt de Septembre” speaks to me today. Here’s dear Sandy Sylvan, whom we lost just over a year ago, singing it with David Breitman.
Elly Ameling and Dalton Baldwin perform this sweet mélodie by Gabriel Fauré with text by Leconte de Lisle. A cool breeze of a song on a hot day.
While this song does not specifically mention summer, I think it beautifully captures the languid blissfulness of a warm summer evening spent in the best possible company. Here is Gérand Souzay to paint this beautiful picture for us “Au bord de l’eau.”
There are some artists that just embody perfection when at their best. Cecilia Bartoli seems to be able to turn anything she touches to gold. She has superhuman control of her voice, especially in her stratospheric coloratura and hushed pianissimi. In this recording of the “Pie Jesu” from Fauré’s Requiem, she delicately phrases each note with a sensitive musical understanding, adding vibrato at just the right moments. Maybe she plans these musical choices ahead of time, or maybe they are how she feels it in that moment – either way, the expression in her voice approaches the sublime.
Listening to artists of Cecilia’s caliber is often what gives me the momentum to continue on this career path. It reminds me that when all is said and done, what really matters is just sharing in music with a listener and hopefully creating a moment of beauty in the world.
Les Roses d’Ispahan (Gabriel Fauré/Leconte de Lisle) (1884)
The vast array of amazing art songs could fill years of “songs-of-the day”… the French chansons have a special place in my heart. In particular, j’adore the music of Gabriel Fauré. It is sumptuous but transparent at the same time – the harmonic change in the “B” section (“O Leila…”) gets me every time… harmony completely “one” with melody and lyric. There’s a formality in the poetry and the music at the core of the song, but it is wrapped in fragrance and a subtle sensuous exoticism – the air is scented with its perfume…
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