The final line of this Reynaldo Hahn piece is what makes this recording with Susan Graham a masterclass in phrasing.
In early 2016 Ben & Lachlan arranged a concert for a small audience of friends in the crypt of Church of the Intercession at 155th & Broadway. This piece, a favorite of Ben’s since college, was a highlight of the evening.
I’m hoping to enjoy my summer this year. We are just getting into it, and I’m already having lots of fun. I think it’s the long evenings that can make summer so special. Langorous dinners with friends al fresco. Extended dusk, and lingering twilight eventually yielding to the night sky. And it’s warm enough to enjoy the night sky. Just the thought of it conjures up memories for me, and maybe this summer I’ll create a few more. Reynaldo Hahn’s “L’heure Exquise” reminds me of these things. I usually don’t think of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and French art song as BFFs, but this recording is extraordinary. He sings so very slowly. Time does actually seem to stop. He was a great singer and maybe an even better musician, so it’s important to me to notice when someone like Fischer-Dieskau does something no one else would (or has), like in this performance. Enjoy your summer. Maybe it be full of beautiful music, the extraordinary, and exquisite moments.
From Caramoor’s Vice-President of Programming, Kathy Schuman:
I can’t say for sure the first time I heard this song, but I remember distinctly when it first made a serious impression—as an encore at Susan Graham’s recital at Carnegie Hall in 2003. I was absolutely swept away by the beauty of it. Up until then I didn’t really know anything about Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947), a Venezuelan-born composer who lived in France. Now I see his songs pop up on recital programs frequently. Whenever I see “À Chloris” listed on a program, or announced as an encore, I heave a deep sigh and settle back in my chair and let this simple beautiful song wash over me. From the first notes of the piano introduction, I am transported to another realm. His songs are a bit old-fashioned compared to contemporaries like Ravel, and it may lack the depth and intensity of Schubert lieder, but for me it captures perfectly the rhapsodic feeling of a newly discovered love.
Over the years I’ve heard it sung by Anne Sofie von Otter, Sarah Connolly, Philippe Jaroussky, David Daniels and others. It’s hard to beat Susan Graham’s version here.
For a Tuesday, I thought something a little more serious (just a little though) could be in order. I have always loved the songs of Reynaldo Hahn and particularly love Susan Graham’s compilation of Hahn’s songs—”La Belle Epoque”. A particularly summery one is “Quand je fus pris au pavillon”, an upbeat memory song about losing your heart to a fancy lady in her pavillion. The piano captures the exhilaration of youthful love and Susan Graham’s voice sounds so honeyed and sweet.
Two themes are emerging in my week: nostalgia and repeated tunes!
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