NUIT D'ETOILES: MELODIES FRANCAISES
GABRIEL FAURÉ eight songs
Après un rêve
Au bord de l'eau
Le papillon et la fleur
Clair de lune
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Eleven songs
Chanson de Bilitis
Fleur des blès
Le belle au bois dormant
Noël des enfants
FRANCIS POULENC eight songs
Deux Mélodies de Guillaume Apollinaire
Les chemins de l'amour.
Véronique Gens (sop)/Roger
rec Metz, Arsenal, 8-12 Nov
1998, 4 Oct 1999 VIRGIN CLASSICS 5 45360 2 [64.31]
Mlle Gens is better known to CD collectors for her recordings of Lully, Rameau,
Charpentier and Marais. To opera buffs she will be familiar for her Fiordiligi
(Antwerp), Elvira (Aix-en-Provence), Contessa di Almaviva (Antwerp and Ghent).
In December last year she sang the part of Mélisande at the Hamburg
opera house.in a well-received pair of performances conducted by Ingo Metzmacher,
with Russell Braun (Pelleas), Jean-Philippe Lafont (Golaud) and Harald Stamm
Her dark-tinted soprano, in fact, matches these songs very well although
my taste is for a lighter toned voice in this repertoire. Light and shade
move and settle over these songs with great subtlety and it is subtlety that
marks out the Debussy songs. Le Tombeau des Naïades (the last
of Chansons de Bilitis) is more direct (as is the surprisingly operatic
La Belle au bois dormant) but nowhere near as communicative as the
Fauré (Mandoline) which is done with studied casualness. Les
Berceaux is sheer delight. Speaking of delight, the Poulenc songs come
next and I hope that Gens will be invited to tackle the complete edition
while she is in such good voice. The performance of Hôtel is
sensationally pulse-slowing with fleshy warmth and hooded eyes.
Roger Vignoles is consistently inspired in his restraint and weighing of
the piano line - listen to him in Valse Chantée. He is an equal
partner in these miniature musical statements.
While these songs are short in duration their acuity in articulating mood
and moment are the equal of many a more 'wordy' symphony.