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**** "La Belle E poque: The Songs of Reynaldo Hahn." Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano. Roger Vignoles, piano. (Sony)

October 25, 1998|Chris Pasles

Never an innovator, Venezuelan-born French composer (and Proust intimate) Hahn has been largely ignored by music historians and critics, who prefer to concentrate on his great contemporary Debussy. But not audiences. Anyone encountering the songs of Hahn is likely to find them perfect in matching words and music, in limpid melody, in evocation of particular moods.

Graham sings a collection of them with surpassing purity and delicacy. While all 24 at a stretch may lack variety, there are few that will not captivate the ear and please the heart, including "Si mes vers avaient des ailes," composed when Hahn was 13. Vignoles is a deeply sensitive accompanist.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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