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Venezia (Reynaldo Hahn)

Date

1901

Description

1. Sopra l’acqua indormenzada – 2. La barcheta – 3. L’avertimento – 4. La Biondina in gondoleta – 5. Che pecà! – 6. La primavera

Text

“The Venetian dialect is enchanting. Above all, it’s youthful. We hear a young man’s voice: it’s an old man speaking. A veritable language of love, it retains an eternal adolescence; the constantly returning inflection gives it a charming flexibility and mobility.” In his Notes, journal d’un musicien (1933), Hahn set down his impressions of Venice, which he had discovered as a young man in spring 1900, when he had travelled there to join Marcel Proust. His fascination with the local dialect led him to compose a cycle of six songs to texts by various Italian poets. But the local colour goes beyond the choice of language: it permeates the music of the whole set, now adopting the barcarolle, now the tarantella, and borrowing for the piano modes of accompaniment from the guitar. Published in France by Heugel in 1901, with translations by Maurice Léna, Venezia could be seen simply as an exotic picture-postcard addressed to the fashionable Paris salons. But that would be forgetting how eager Reynaldo Hahn had been to try out his songs on the Venetian public, in order to test their authenticity: “Yesterday, even better; I was really pleased. Mme de Béarn had asked me to sing solo with a piano in the piccoli canali. [...] In an illuminated boat, I was alone with the piano and two oarsmen. [...] Little by little, passers-by gathered, lining the balustrades of the bridges; an audience made up of ordinary people formed, compact and attentive. The Chansons vénitiennes had the effect, on that small crowd, of firecrackers, producing a joy and an astonishment that delighted me. ‘Ancora! ancora!’ they cried from above...”

    Person - 1
  • HAHN, Reynaldo (1874-1947)
  • Themes - 2
  • Genre – La mélodie française
  • Salons – La musique dans les salons de la Troisième République