songs of enchantment
and music become one in this hauntingly beautiful recording
of three orchestral song cycles set to music by the French masters
- Chausson, Ravel, and Debussy, and sung with great pathos and beauty
of voice by America's star mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.
Quite unlike the album of French operetta arias about life and love
(C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour) that preceded
it, Poèmes de l'amour is profoundly heavy stuff.
Poems by Maurice Bouchor, Arthur Leclere (whose unmistakably Wagnerian
pseudonym was Tristan Klingsor!), and the revolutionary Charles Baudelaire
comprise the text - expressions of unfullfilled longings and lamentations
on the darker aspects of love. The lush orchestration, wonderfully
brought to life here by Yan Pascal Tortelier directing the BBC Symphony
Orchestra, is of Wagnerian dimensions, reflecting Wagner's undismissible
influence on French composers at the turn of the 20th century, the
era known as bel époque.
Classics #2564 61938-2
Buy the CD
recognition of her contribution to French culture, SUSAN GRAHAM
has been named COMMANDER OF THE ORFER OF ARTS AND LETTERS, France's
highest cultural award.
She was The Gramophone's
June 2005 cover story and her Poèmes de l'amour
was "CD of the Month" and "Editor's Choice" for
heart-wrenchingly romantic music (Tracks 1-3) sets the album's theme.
With the sumptuous, tone poem orchestration and Ms. Graham's
lustrous mezzo-soprano, Poème de l'amour et de la mer
basks in the lilac-scented light of newly found love, swells with
waves of anguished foreboding at the prospect of rejection, and then
quietly fades into the tormenting finality of oblivion, of a love
that is "forever dead."
The second of the three song cycles, Maurice Ravel's early 20th
century composition on an oriental theme, Shéhérazade
(Tracks 4-6), is the most familiar and the least somber. Ms. Graham's
superb interpretation vividly captures the dreamy longing for the
exotic mysteries of distant lands imagined in the first song Asie.
Debussy's songs Le Livre de Baudelaire (Tracks 7-10) are among
his early works, composed when he was in his mid 20s. The dream-like quality
of his mature works is apparent in these melodic songs, filled with sad
longing for the ecstasies of past loves, that foreshadow the exemplary
master of color and feeling that he came to be. Of the four songs in this
cycle, he orchestrated only Le Jet d'eau. Heard here are new
orchestrations for all four songs by contemporary American composer John
Adams that are attuned to the rich harmonies of the other works in the
album, the way Debussy - at the time enthralled by the Wagnerian style
- likely would have done it. Ms. Graham's impeccably expressive interpretation
does the music and the poetry great justice.
This album takes us to unfamiliar territory and Susan Graham makes us
want to stay there - enchanted, spellbound!
- © JB / FanFaire
Scroll down and CLICK to hear some music clips.
Poème de l'amour et de la mer
La Fleur des eaux
La Mort de l'amour
|Maurice Ravel: Shéhérazade
La Flûte enchantée
|Claude Debussy: Le Livre de
Baudelaire (from Debussy's
Cinq Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire)
Harmonie du soir
Le Jet d'eau
Poémes de l'amour
Awards 2005 In
recital C'est ça
la vie La
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