About the album
THE FLOWER OF GENIUS AND FRENCH MÉLODIE
‘It is truly in his songs that Fauré reveals the flower of his genius’, wrote the composer’s former pupil Maurice Ravel. More than a hundred songs written over six decades made Fauré perhaps the greatest master of the genre French “mélodie”.
The present collection takes us on a journey from Fauré’s first song cycle, “Poème d’un jour” (1878), to his last, “L’Horizon chimérique” (1921), via the exultant “La Bonne Chanson” (1892-94) and the intensely concentrated “Mirages” of 1919. The songs have texts by French poets of Fauré’s time; here we find poems of Charles Grandmougin, Baronne de Brimont, Paul Verlaine and Jean de La Ville de Mirmont.
“Mirages” concludes Bettina Smith’s project for LAWO Classics of recording all of Gabriel Fauré’s cycles for voice and piano. It was preceded in this series by “Fêtes Galantes” (LWC1116) and “Serres Chaudes” (LWC1008), both together with pianist Einar Røttingen. Together they have also released “Voices of Women”, with songs of Fartein Valen, Jostein Stalheim and Ketil Hvoslef, composers from Norway’s west coast.
Mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith is from Bergen. After graduating from Bergen Conservatory of Music, she studied with Wout Oosterkamp and Elly Ameling at the Royal Conservatory of Music in the Hague. This was followed by two years at the Zürich International Opera Studio. With a wide repertory ranging from medieval to contemporary music, Bettina Smith appears regularly as oratorio and cantata soloist, or together with pianists Jan Willem Nelleke and Einar Røttingen.
Dutch pianist Jan Willem Nelleke’s exceptional qualities as a duo partner have been widely recognised. His playing has been described as “sparkling raindrops, rich chords and beautiful interludes” and as an “ever alert co-operation with the soloist”.
11Poème d?un jour, Op. 21 I. Rencontre
12Poème d?un jour, Op. 21 II. Toujours
13Poème d?un jour, Op. 21 III. Adieu
14Mirages, Op. 113 I. Cygne sur l?eau
15Mirages, Op. 113 II. Reflets dans l?eau
16Mirages, Op. 113 III. Jardin nocturne
17Mirages, Op. 113 IV. Danseuse
18La bonne chanson, Op. 61 I. Une sainte en son auréole
19La bonne chanson, Op. 61 II. Puisque l?aube grandit
110La bonne chanson, Op. 61 III. La lune blanche luit dans les bois
111La bonne chanson, Op. 61 IV. J?allais par des chemins perfides
112La bonne chanson, Op. 61 V. J?ai presque peur, en vérité
113La bonne chanson, Op. 61 VI. Avant que tu ne t?en ailles
114La bonne chanson, Op. 61 VII. Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d?été
115La bonne chanson, Op. 61 VIII. N?est-ce pas?
116La bonne chanson, Op. 61 IX. L?Hiver a cessé
117L?Horizon chimérique, Op. 118 I. La mer est infinie
118L?Horizon chimérique, Op. 118 II. Je me suis embarqué
119L?Horizon chimérique, Op. 118 III. Diane, Séléné
120L?Horizon chimérique, Op. 118 IV. Vaisseaux, nous vous aurons aimés