For some reason I have never sought out the music of Reynaldo Hahn until now. Listening to his songs sung by Susan Graham has given me new insight into the “little phrase” and Proust’s appreciation of music. The songs are exquisite. Proust and Hahn had different musical sensibilities; Hahn felt a close kinship to Mozart and Proust to Wagner. But it is easy, especially after reading Swann in Love, to see how the passionate stage of their love affair must have been suffused with and amplified by music. Proust would ask Hahn to play the theme from Saint-Saen’s Sonata for Violin and Piano over and over. He was 22 and Hahn 19 when they became lovers.
Be careful who you are with when you listen to Graham sing these songs.