Child prodigy and youngest of 12 children, Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947) was a Venezuelan, naturalised French, composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director, and salon singer. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the mélodie. The fine craftsmanship, remarkable beauty, and originality of his works capture the insouciance of la belle époque.
Accompanist and brilliant writer Graham Johnson describes the song beautifully:
“À Chloris is beyond doubt the summit of Reynaldo Hahn’s art as a pasticheur, and it ranks as perhaps the most successful example of musical time-travelling in the French mélodie repertoire (if one excludes that peerless masterpiece of the madrigal style, Fauré’s Clair de lune). À Chloris has charm, elegance, gravity and the ability to move audiences—what more could one ask of a song, whether or not it is a pastiche? The fact that it is based on the striding bass line of Bach’s ‘Air on the G-string’ seems irrelevant: one smiles at the composer’s audacity at the beginning, but one stays to listen to the music, Hahn’s music, in its own right. It uses one of his favourite devices where the accompaniment is a piano piece with its own momentum; over this the voice embroiders an inspired overlay which seems half sung and half spoken, moving with conversational grace between whispered confidences and declarations of love in full voice. Here is a different world from the Charles d’Orléans settings—this is seventeenth-century France where the medieval has ceded to the baroque. All the grace of Louis XIII’s epoch seems encapsulated here, but there is also an undertone of sadness.” [Graham Johnson]
FRENCH LYRICS of À Chloris by Théophile de Viau (1590-1626)
S'il est vrai, Chloris, que tu m'aimes, Mais j'entends, que tu m'aimes bien, Je ne crois point que les rois mêmes Aient un bonheur pareil au mien. Que la mort serait importune De venir changer ma fortune A la félicité des cieux! Tout ce qu'on dit de l'ambroisie Ne touche point ma fantaisie Au prix des grâces de tes yeux.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION of À Chloris by Théophile de Viau (1590-1626)
If it be true, Chloris, that thou lovst me, And I understand that thou dost love me well, I do not believe that even kings Could know such happiness as mine. How unwelcome death would be, If it came to exchange my fortune With the joy of heaven! All that they say of ambrosia Does not fire my imagination Like the favour of thine eyes.
Visit the Reynaldo Hahn Society HERE.
Download Free Scores in PDF FORMAT of À Chloris in D major and Emajor HERE.
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