Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

eight songs

Après un rêve
Au bord de l'eau
Le papillon et la fleur
Clair de lune
Les berceaux

Eleven songs
Chanson de Bilitis
Fêtes galantes
Nuits d'étoiles
Beau soir
Fleur des blès
Le belle au bois dormant
Noël des enfants

eight songs
Deux Mélodies de Guillaume Apollinaire
Les chemins de l'amour.

Véronique Gens (sop)/Roger Vignoles (piano)
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 a well-received pair of performances conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, with Russell Braun (Pelleas), Jean-Philippe Lafont (Golaud) and Harald Stamm (Arkel).

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.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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