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About this Album
American baritone Sanford Sylvan’s latest release, L’Horizon Chimérique, is a recital of songs by Gabriel Fauré exploring a wide range of human emotion. Performed with pianist David Breitman, his long-time collaborator, and the Lydian String Quartet, Sylvan offers a refined yet passionate treatment of these diverse selections.
The album’s title work, L’horizon chimérique (“The Illusory Horizon”), refers to a volume of writing by poet Jean de la Ville de Mirmont, who died at the age of 24. From this collection representing the final thoughts of a young man whose life was ended by war, Fauré chose four poems to which he composed music, which were among his last compositions. Reviewer Marc Mandel says of the selections, “Here is Fauré’s musical language at its most economical, the greatness of his songwriting distilled to its essence.”
The album’s 22 selections include La bonne chanson, a song cycle written around nine poems by Paul Verlaine, performed with the Lydian String Quartet, as well as Mandoline, Le secret, and two Nocturnes for piano solo.
Sylvan’s debut recital album on Nonesuch, Beloved That Pilgrimage, an all-American program of music by Barber, Copland, and Chanler, was nominated for a Grammy as Best Classical Vocal Performance in 1991. An earlier recording of John Adams’s The Wound Dresser, composed especially for him, was also a Grammy nominee. Sylvan originated roles in two other Adams operas which were recorded by Nonesuch—Chou-En Lai in Nixon in China and Leon Klinghoffer in The Death of Klinghoffer.
Sylvan has performed with orchestras throughout the world and appeared in numerous operatic productions. From Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin to the operas of John Adams, he displays a remarkable range of vocal expression and communicative power. On the concert stage and in recordings, his radiantly pure, lyric tone, clarity of diction, and profound understanding of both words and music speak directly and intimately to his audiences. The New York Times has written, “Sylvan grasps a style that the French themselves have been hard pressed to pass on to their own young singers. This lovely, upward-straining, yet relaxed delivery serves the music with subdued grace and tenderness.”
Sanford Sylvan, baritone
David Breitman, piano
The Lydian String Quartet
Produced and engineered by Max Wilcox
Recorded January 6 and 7, 1995, at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, New York
Tracks 4-12 recorded May 13, 1995 at the Campion Center, Newton, Massachusetts
Digital Engineer: Paul Zinman
Music by Gabriel Fauré
Text by Catulle Mendès (1, 2), Albert Samain (3), Paul Verlaine (4-12, 19), Jean de la Ville de Mirmont (14-17), Armand Silvestre (20, 21), Charle-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle (22)
Design by SMOG
Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz
Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz