Was It A Dream?

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Was It A Dream?


Composers such as Sibelius and Tchaikovsky are more often than not, recognised as masters of larger scale works. This collection of songs expose their smaller masterpieces and demonstrates the art of the French masters; Fauré and Duparc.


Composers such as Sibelius and Tchaikovsky are more often than not, recognised as masters of larger scale works. This collection of songs expose their smaller masterpieces and demonstrates the art of the French masters; Fauré and Duparc.

  • Jean Sibelius – Schilfröhr Säusle (2’21)
  • Jean Sibelius – Schwarze Rosen (2’01)
  • Jean Sibelius – Mädchen kam von Stelldichein (3’05)
  • Jean Sibelius – Ai-je rêve? (2’30)
  • Jean Sibelius – Der Diamant auf den Märzschnee (2’31)
  • Jules Massenet – Oh! Si les fleurs avaient des yeux… (1’49)
  • Jules Massenet – Ouvre tes yeux bleues (1’53)
  • Jules Massenet – Heure vécue? (2’12)
  • Jules Massenet – Plus vite (2’33)
  • Jules Massenet – Voix suprême (2’35)
  • Henri Duparc – Au pays où se fait le guerre (5’08)
  • Henri Duparc – Romance de Mignon (4’55)
  • Henri Duparc – Chanson triste (3’24)
  • Gabriel Fauré – Au bord de l’eau (2’14)
  • Pablo Luna – De Espagna vengo (5’39)
  • Pablo Sorozábal – Noche hermosa (3’03)
  • Sebastián de Yradier – La Paloma (2’21)
  • Léo Delibes – Avril (3’10)
  • Pyotr Il’ich Tchaikovsky – Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (3’03)
  • Pyotr Il’ich Tchaikovsky – Inmitten des Balles (2’33)
  • Marguarite Monnot – Hymme a l’amour (2’33)
  • Dino Olivieri – J’attendrai (3’09)
  • Louis Gugliemi – La vie en rose (4’10)

Total running time (68’55)

Although these composers didn’t quite reach the heights of Robert Schumann or Franz Schubert, there is certainly no lack of beauty in the songs found here. Composers such as Sibelius and Tchaikovsky are more often than not, recognised as masters of larger scale works. This collection of songs exposes their smaller masterpieces while at the same time demonstrates the art of the French masters; Fauré, and Duparc. A touch of spice is added by the exotic Zarzuela composers Pablo Luna, Sorozobál, Yradier as well as two songs written by Edith Piaf.

It is said that the songs of Sibelius reveal his “innermost side.” He wrote around 90 songs over 27 years and interestingly, the majority in Swedish rather than his native language, Finnish.

Säf, säf, susa (reeds, reeds whisper), written in 1900, is No. 4 in his set of six songs (Op. 36) which is a setting of a poem by Gustaf Fröding who played an important role in developing Swedish Verse. Schwarze Rosen (black roses) is the first song from Op. 26, 1900, written with vocalist Ida Elkman in mind, who encouraged Sibelius to set poems to music.

Sibelius was more fluent in Finnish and was greatly inspired by the lyricism of the poems by J.L. Runeberg. Mädchen kam vom Stelldichein (the girl who came from meeting her lover) is one of his many poems set to music by Sibelius which are considered some of the composer’s finest songs.

The title track Ai, je rêvè? (Was It A Dream?), Op. 37 no. 4 (1902) and Der Diamant auf dem Märzschnee, (The Diamond on the March snow), Op. 36, No. 6 (1900) are two poems by the postromantic Finnish writer, J. J. Wecksell who, due to failing health reasons saw only one collection of his poems published.

Through the success of his operas, French composer, Massenet developed a sophisticated approach to voice and orchestra. Massenet wrote over 280 songs, demonstrating his skill as a lyrical writer setting poems by Buchillot (Oh! Si les fleurs avaient des yeux…), Robriquet (Ouvre tes yeux bleus), Jacquet (Heure vécue?), Vacaresco (Plus vite) and Lafaix-Gontie (Voix Suprême) to music.

Sadly, Duparc was a less prolific composer than Massenet with a legacy of only 13 songs due to a crippling psychological condition which caused him to stop composing. However, they have remained a recognised part of French repertoire.

Théophile Gautier was actually a painter before he turned to writing. He was one of France’s leading poets and writers who is best known for his final collection Emaux et Camées. Here is Duparc’s setting to Au pays où se fait la guerre and Goethe’s Romance de Mignon both written around 1869-70.

Jean Lahor’s poem is actually called Dans ton coeur dort un clair de lune but Duparc made his own mark and renamed it Chanson triste, written circa 1868.

Like Duparc, Gabriel Fauré lacked confidence but to a lesser extent. It has been said that Fauré’s music is deficient of “colour,” but he remains one of the most respected of French song writers. He was encouraged by friends to set poems to music as well as publishing them, and it seems, through this, he perfected his technique in finding the real essence of a poem to accompany musical expression. It was a genre in which he wrote almost all his life and here is his setting to Au bord de l’eau by Sully-Prudhomme (1839-1907).

Spanish composer, Pablo Luna had a different and more zestful approach to composing, experiencing success with his compositions in the Viennese operetta style but above all, Luna is noted for his works in the style of Zarzuela (Spanish comic opera), as found here. De Espana vengo is a poem by E. J. Alvarez y A. Paso.

Similarly, Sorozobál enjoyed success with Zarzuela but is considerered a little more controversial than Luna possibly due to wider spreading influences such as Puccini, Debussy and Gershwin as well as those surrounding him when he moved to Leipzig, then later Berlin. J. del Castillo y M. M. Alonfo wrote Noche hermosa to which, Sorozobál set music.

One of the best known songs composed in this style is La Paloma by Spaniard Sebastian Yradier, who wrote both the words and music while he was stationed in Cuba.

French composer Léo Delibes is particularly celebrated for the beautiful Flower Duet from the opera, Lakmé, but his setting to Remy Belleau’s poem, Avril (1866) is equally colourful in harmony. This is an extremely rare piece and there are very few recordings in existance.

World-renowned poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote works such as Faust and Prometheus which have been set to music by numerous classical composers (Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, Beethoven,). Here is a version of Goethe’s Nur wer die Sehnsucht Kennt (Only one who knows loneliness), Op. 6 No. 6 (1869) by Tchaikovsky together with his setting of Tolstoy’s Inmitten des balles (At The Ball) Op. 38 No. 3 (1878).

Hymme a l’amour is one of Edith Piaf’s best known songs. The lyricist and singer, also known as “Little Sparrow” joined forces with her faithful friend, Marguerite Monnot to write this tribute to her lover Marcel Cedran, from whose sudden death she never quite recovered.

J’attendrai is a poem by Louis Poterat which was set to music by the Italian composer, Dino Olivieri in 1939.

La Vie en Rose is by Edith Piaf and music by Louiguy (Louis Gugliemi) who also wrote Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White and the music for the gangster movie, The Verdict, by Jean Gabin. This song later became her signature tune and together with Hymne a l’amour and various other songs, Edith Piaf enjoyed worldwide success, particularly in America.

(This album was recorded at St. Paul’s School, London in August, 2003).


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