Text Painting in L'Heure Exquise by Reynaldo Hahn

Topics: Reynaldo Hahn, Singing, Human voice Pages: 3 (578 words) Published: December 3, 2012
Reynaldo Hahn (August 9, 1875 – January 28, 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.

Probably the most beautiful pieces (in my opinion) ever composed by Hahn was "Lhuere exquise" with is simplicity and perfect illustration of text.

The (French) text reads:
"La lune blanche
luit dans les bois.
De chaque branche
part une voix
sous la ramée.

O bien aimée.

L’étang reflète,
profond miroir,
la silhouette
du saule noir
où le vent pleure.

Rêvons, c’est l’heure.

Un vaste et tendre
semble descendre
du firmament
que l’astre irise.

C’est l’heure exquise!"


"The white moon
shines in the woods.
From each branch
springs a voice
beneath the arbor.

Oh my beloved...

Like a deep mirror
the pond reflects
the silhouette
of the black willow
where the wind weeps.

Let us dream! It is the hour...

A vast and tender
seems to descend
from a sky
made iridescent by the moon.

It is the exquisite hour!"

The accompaniment to the piece is quite lovely and is perfect for the txt of the piece. The speaker in this art song, which is usually sung by high voice although it has been transposed, is speaking of how perfect the setting is for them to be with their lover. While the meter of the music flows along in a docile sense it almost has a tedious sense about it. The detail to which the speaker lends their description gives a little bit of anxiety almost because of how delicate the scene seems to be. It's almost as if the speaker wants to be careful not to break the perfection as if it has the tensile strength of a cobweb even. Small breaks in the accompaniment to be left to the soloist give a sense of very...
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