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Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Mélodies sur les poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Éluard, Federico Garcia Lorca, textes anonyme (XVIIe siècle)
Banalités (Chanson d'Orkenise; Hôtel; Fagnes de Wallonie; Voyage à Paris; Sanglots)
Quatre Poèmes: (l'Anguille; Carte-Postale; Avant le Cinéma; 1904);
Calligrammes: (l'Espionne; Mutation; Vers le Sud; Il pleut; La Grâce Exilé; Aussi bien que les Cigales; Voyage)
Chansons Gaillardes (textes anonymes du 17e siècle): La maitresse volage; Chanson à boire; Madrigal; Invocation aux Parques; Couplets Bachiques; l'Offrande; La Belle Jeunesse; Sérénade)
Federico Garcia Lorca
Trois chansons: (l'Enfant Muet; Adelina à la Promenade; Chanson de l'oranger sec)
Le Travail du Peintre: (Pablo Picasso; Marc Chagall; Georges Braque; Juan Gris; Paul Klee; Joan Miró; Jacques Villon)
La Fraîcheur et le Feu: (Rayon des Yeux; Le matin - les branches attisent; Tout disparut; Dans les Ténèbres du jardin; Unis la Fraîcheur et le feu; Homme au sourire tendre; La grande rivière qui va)
Nous voulons une petite soeur
Laurent Naouri (bar)
David Abramovitz (piano)
rec 20-21 Dec 1999, Haut-Dortoir de l'Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, Fontevraud-L'Abbaye, Maine-et-Loire, France. DDD
HARMONIC CLASSICS H/CD 9958 [67.00]
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This disc is so beautifully presented I was suspicious that the performances or recordings might not match up. I was wrong.
The baritone Laurent Naouri has a voice of splendid security, wide-ranging and subtle. These technical qualities are informed by intelligence and emotional reach. He spans a range from lower bass to lower tenor and everything in between.
Naouri deploys an amber half-hooded tone for La grenouillère. Hotel inhabits the marches between sleep and waking. The exultant mood of Chanson d'Orkenise dances in dazzling sunlight. Naouri also produces a glowing effect for quasi-Warlockian Fagnes de Wallonie. Voyage à Paris is virtually Sondheim. Perhaps we are learning now where Sondheim drew some of his inspiration. Having prepared us with four exceptional songs Poulenc and Naouri finish with Sanglots - a song of deeper emotional reach (virtually a concert aria). If you are feeling fed-up then Banalités is one of those cycles that should return you to the sunlight.
The Quatre Poèmes of 1931 are variously dedicated to Marie Laurencin, Mme Cole Porter, Madame Picasso, Mme Jean-Arthur Fontaine. These are expressionist songs. They predate Banalités by a decade. While Banalités might easily take their place in an Ute Lemper cabaret concert, these are tougher nuts. That said, Avant le cinéma has some of the exultation which was later to surface in franker tones in 1940.
Calligrammes of 1948 consists of seven songs. Mutation (the second song) harks back to Nazi-occupied Paris and Les Banalités. Il pleut with its quick raindrops recalls Britten while Aussi bien que les cigales sounds a little like Alan Bush in his most oratorical vein but then transforms into another of those Ďariasí of glorious sunlit triumph. This is one of highlights of the disc. These set-pieces or scenas are well suited to Naouri who, be it noted, made his solo debut in 1992 in the title role of Darius Milhaud's opera Christoph Colomb.
There are eight songs in Chansons Gaillardes. They were written in the mid-1920s. Rather than being frivolous or amorous they are subdued - an approximation of Schoeck and the Swiss school. Only in Couplets Bachique is there an approach to light-heartedness with much la-la-la-ing along the way.
The Trois Chansons to words of Federico Garcia Lorca are from 1947. The third is dedicated to that distinguished Poulenc singer Gérard Souzay. Adelina á la promenade is another example of Poulenc's intoxicating scene painting. Naouri relishes the roll and rasp of the words "Il rendra vert mon visage / jus de citron et de limon."
The cycle of Paul Éluard settings, Le travail du peintre is from 1956. The songs are entitled Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Paul Klee, Joan Miró, Jacques Villon. The second Eluard cycle on this disc is Unis la Fraîcheur et le feu. This is dedicated to Igor Stravinsky. Both cycles are spun from tougher material but carry the impress of a composer whose songs are among the finest of the last century.
The words are printed in French without English translation which some may find unnerving. That would a poor pretext for not acquiring this recording.
et le Feu
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