Last week my singing teacher, the fabulous Christine Hubbard introduced me to this exquisite song of Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). It’s one of a set of three composed for voice and piano, though the songs were not initially conceived as a trilogy. Après un Rêve is set to a poem by Romain Bussine; (1830–1899) French poet, baritone and voice teacher at the Paris Conservatoire.
I knew little of Fauré, despite having a CD of Janet Baker singing some of his works. I was intrigued, singing this song, to pick up what seemed an oriental influence and then came across another of his songs, called Les Roses d’Ispahan, which seemed to confirm this idea. I hunted down online an old book: Gabriel Fauré: The Songs and Their Poets, by Graham Johnson, in which he states: The cover of Fauré’s song Seule! with Istanbul‘s Hagia Sophia in the background shows a contemporary fascination with a world of mosques and minarets. Johnson goes on to say, however: The single melody influenced by passion for orientalism is Les Roses d’Ispahan … It evokes Western delight in Eastern Luxury … I think I don’t agree with this. Listen and enjoy Veronique Gens’ beautiful rendition. What do you think?
Here are the lyrics in English:
After a dream
In a slumber enchanted by your image
I dreamt of happiness, passionate mirage,
Your eyes were softer, your voice pure and resonant,
You shone like a sky lit up by the dawn;
You called me and I left the earth
To run away with you towards the light,
The skies opened their clouds for us,
Unknown splendours, divine flashes glimpsed,
Alas! Alas! sad awakening from dreams
I call you, O night, give me back your lies,
Return, return radiant,
Return, O mysterious night!
And all this hopping around from song to song and composer to composer is for a reason. I’m going to be recording a CD – next year! Yay! Maybe! So I need a repertoire under my belt from which to choose.
Why not? So I may be a mad old bat, but as long as I’m doing no harm to anyone, it’s not a crime to be mad, old and batty. And if the recording’s rubbish, no-one will ever get to hear it!
Check out also the rendition by Renée Fleming. It is sublime (and sung in my key)!