Ernest Chausson

Chanson perpétuelle, for soprano & orchestra (or piano quintet), Op. 37

    Description by Meredith Gailey

    This family man was well-acquainted with the works of Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Bach before he acquired a felicitous spirit from Massenet and an understanding of harmonic richness and cyclical form from Franck, with both of whom he studied at the Paris Conservatory. Having first completed legal studies, Chausson's late start in formal musical training required many years of persistence in order to reach refinement. In fact, it was only shortly before his death that Chausson entered his third and most triumphant period of output (1894-1899) during which he fully mastered his technique and embraced new ways of thinking about and writing music. The music of his first and second periods, with shapely melodic lines, elegant harmonies, and elaborate and dramatic styles, showed the influence of Wagner and Massenet, whereas that of his third period grows in sonority and harmonic subtlety.

    Chanson Perpetuelle (1898) provides an example of the direction in which Chausson was taking his music. The piece has an air of disenchantment and conveys the oppressive degree of Chausson's post-romantic world. The verse is a declaration of love to an absent lover and is taken directly from Charles Cros' poem "Chanson Perpetuelle." Written for voice, piano, and orchestra (or string quartet/quintet), Chausson implies the title's perpetual recurrence by developing the work's introductory bars, a phrase in the minor mode, which rises to a fifth and falls to the third and tonic, as a predominant accompanimental figure to the tenderly longing syllabic vocal line. The only formal repetition of the piece is found within verse seven, when the music of the first verse is repeated. Chausson is remembered as one of the most prominent and influential members of the Franck circle, and after a period of cleansing himself of his early musical influences, he and other friends attempted to renew interest in pure forms of classicalism. Chanson Perpetuelle is an example of the type of purified music that the Franck circle might have been interested in, as it is free from the at-times-incomprehensible Wagnerian language and the Massenet-like use of excessive trills and arpeggios, which were found in Chausson's early works. Chanson Perpetuelle is a moving representation of the clarity and conciseness, which appeared in Chausson's final works.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Erato 573807
    2017 Fuga Libera FUG 471
    2016 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 095
    2016 Sony Classical 88875183412
    2015 Aparte AP 106
    2015 Naïve V 5355
    2015 Erato
    2014 Capriccio Records C 5144
    2012 Newton Classics 8802125
    2011 Decca
    2010 Timpani / Zebralution
    2010 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT100402
    2010 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099962844
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099996429
    2008 Timpani 3C2132
    2008 Virgin Classics 22128
    2008 Erato 4697012
    2007 Apex
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 55388
    2005 Capriccio Records 71002
    2003 Apex 48992
    2003 Philips 000150802
    2001 Capriccio Records 10860
    2001 Hyperion 67321
    2000 Le Chant du Monde LDC2781117
    2000 Retro Records 4020
    1999 Timpani 2028
    1997 RCA 68342
    1996 Arts Music 47271
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447752
    1996 Erato 14073
    1994 Decca 440413
    1988 Erato 45368
    1985 CBS Records 39315
    Aria 592300
    SNE 2031
    Asv 605
    Rca Red Seal 987202
    Fone 9831
    Fone 98 F 31