SUSAN GRAHAM: POÉMES DE L'AMOUR
- French songs in the style of Bel Epoque

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Poémes de l'amour
Awards 2005
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C'est ça la vie!
La Belle Époque
DeadMan Walking
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Poems of Love...
songs of enchantment


Poetry 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.

WARNER Classics #2564 61938-2
         Buy the CD           

In 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 June 2005.

Ernest Chausson's 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.

Claude 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 2005

Scroll down and CLICK to hear some music clips.

The Tracklist:


1. I
2.
3. II

Ernest Chausson: Poème de l'amour et de la mer
La Fleur des eaux
Interlude
La Mort de l'amour
4. I
5. II
6. III
Maurice Ravel: Shéhérazade
Asie
La Flûte enchantée
L'Indifférent

7. I
8. II
9. III
10. !V
Claude Debussy: Le Livre de Baudelaire (from Debussy's Cinq Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire)
Le Balcon
Harmonie du soir
Le Jet d'eau
Recueillement

from Chausson: La Fleur des eaux
Track 1

from Ravel: La Flûte enchantée
Track 5
from Debussy: Le Balcon
Track 7
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                        Profile    Poémes de l'amour    Awards 2005    In recital    C'est ça la vie    La Belle Époque
                                                                                       DeadMan Walking    Discography    Calendar



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