I am not so blasé when it comes to aural experiences. Hearing the voice of Eliot or Dylan Thomas or Gertrude Stein in those wonderful Caedmon recordings brings up a kind of worshipful frisson beyond just the pleasure of hearing great poetry read well. I discovered a similar, but even more intense delight in listening to the Romophone CD set, “Reynaldo Hahn: The Complete Recordings.” (Used copies are going for $300 on Amazon.)
Why does it move me so much more to think that Proust just might have been sitting in the studio while Hahn recorded this than it would to have a drink in the café in Deauville where, from a window above the street, Marcel first saw Albertine and her friends come romping? I don’t have the answer to that question. Just a quirk, I guess.
Offrande by Verlaine. (Verlaine’s original title was the English word, Green.) Sung by Reynaldo Hahn, accompanying himself on the piano. Recorded, August 21, 1909.
Okay, okay. I’m a hopeless francophile. I admit it.