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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 


Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Mélodies sur les poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Éluard, Federico Garcia Lorca, textes anonyme (XVIIe siècle)

Apollinaire:-
La grenouillère

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)
Montparnasse

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)
Paul Éluard

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)
Jean Nohain

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]
CD available for post-free online mail-order or you may download individual tracks. For some labels you can download the entire CD with a single click and make HUGE savings. The price you see is the price you pay! The full booklet notes are available on-line.

NOTE • Click on the button and you can buy the disc or read the booklet details • You can also access each track which you may then sample or down load. • Further Information.


 

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.

Rob Barnett

 


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SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

La Grenouillere

Banalites
Chanson d'Orkenise
Hotel
Fagnes de Wallonie
Voyage a Paris
Sanglots

Quatre Poemes
L'Anguille
Carte-Postale
Avant le cinema
1904

Calligrammes
L'Espionne
Mutation
Vers le Sud
Il pleut
La grace exilee
Aussi bien que les cigales
Voyage

Montparnasse

Chansons gaillardes
La Maitresse volage
Chanson a boire
Madrigal
Invocation aux parques
Couplets bachiques
l'Offrande
La belle jeunesse
Serenade

Trois Chansons -
L'Enfant muet
Adelina a la promenade
Chanson de l'oranger sec

Le Travail du Peintre
Pablo Picasso
Marc Chagall
Georges Braque
Juan Gris
Paul Klee
Juan Gris
Jacques Villon

La Fraicheur et le Feu
Rayon des yeux...
Le matin les branches attisent...
Tout disparut...
Dans les tenebres du jardin...
Unis la fraicheur et le feu...
Homme au sourire tendre...
La grande riviere qui va...

Nous voulons une petite soeur


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