Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944)
Mots d’amour:
Ronde d’amour (Love’s Roundelay)
La lune paresseuse (The Idle Moon)
Mignone (My Love)
L’Anneau d’argent (The Silver Ring)
Ma première lettre (My First Letter)
L’amour captif (Love Held captive)
Attente (Au pays de Provence) Waiting (in Provence)
Voisinage (My Neighbour)
Bonne humeur (Cheerfulness)
Malgré nous (Despite Ourselves)
Nice-la-belle (Nice the Beautiful)
Menuet (Minuet)
Te souviens-tu  (Do you remember?)
Auprès de ma mie (Near My beloved)
Viens! Mon bien-aimé!  (Come, My beloved!)
Si j’étais jardinier (If I were a gardener)
Mots d’amour (Words of Love)
Ecrin (Jewel-case)
Espoir (Hope)
Chanson triste (Melancholy Song)
Je voudrais (I should like…)
L’Été (Summer)
Three pieces for Violin and Piano:
Sérénade espagnole 
Three Pieces for Two Pianos:
Valse carnavalesque
Pas des cymbales
Danse païenne
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) and Bengt Forsberg (piano)
With Nils-Erik Sparf and Peter Jablonski (piano II)
Recorded in Swedish Radio Studios, Stockholm in September 2000
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 331-2 [76:09]
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French composer Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) was a protégé of Bizet, and student of Benjamin Godard; and her talent was recognised by Ambroise Thomas, Massenet, Gounod, Saint-Saëns and Chabrier. She composed works for orchestra, a comic opera and a ballet but she is remembered for her sparkling songs full of charm and joie de vivre. They are redolent of the spirit of fin de siècle Paris, City of Lights. Given their appeal, it is extraordinary that they have been so overlooked for so long by the recording companies.

This delightful compilation includes twenty-five of her songs, all little gems. I could wax enthusiastic about all of them in fact I ticked them all for comment as I listened through for the first time. Anne Sofie von Otter and Bengt Forsberg show great affection for them, their performances are very committed; a sense of fun and enjoyment is clearly communicated. Anne Sofie colours her voice according to their mood and sings most expressively enjoying every nuance and elegant lilt. Just to mention a few: ‘L’amour captif’ (Love Held Captive) is deliciously cheeky and capricious; ‘Ma premiere lettre’ (My First Letter) is an affecting remembrance of a first love letter; ‘Nice-la-belle’ (Nice the Beautiful) is an engaging high-spirited visit to sunny Nice full of flowers and gorgeous girls; ‘Te souviens-tu?’ (Do you remember?), to words by Benjamin Godard, is one of Chaminade’s most beguiling melodies, and Ecrin (Jewel-case) teases naughtily both in the vocal and instrumental lines. The most substantial song is reserved until last the 5+ minute ‘L’Été’ (Summer) a beautifully evocative setting of words by Edouard Guinard that gives Von Otter the opportunity to show off her coloratura talents in a dazzling display of sheer joyeuse.

Additionally, there are six tracks of non-vocal music: three pieces for violin and piano (with Nils-Erik Sparf joining Forsberg) and another three numbers for two pianos with Peter Jablonski on second piano. Of the three pieces for violin and piano the opening Sérénade espagnole is performed in Fritz Kreisler’s engaging arrangement. The following Rondeau is pleasant if a little formal while the Capriccio skits along down well-trodden salon music paths. Of the music for two pianos, Valse carnavalesque is a clever, jolly tour de force combining waltz figures with humorous material that suggests puppets on strings – there is an enchanting poignancy here too. Chaminade, herself, created something of a sensation when, in 1910, she played this piece accompanying herself playing second piano as a pre-recorded piano-roll pianola recording. Pas des cymbales is a sparkling piece recalling but without suggesting pastiche, Chabrier’s España. Danse païenne is a little caprice looking back towards 19th century trifles.

A tonic for the winter months. Twenty-five delightful songs sung with great élan and affection by Anne Sofie von Otter splendidly supported by Bengt Forsberg and six sparkling bonus pieces for violin and piano, and two pianos.

Ian Lace

see also review by Christopher Howell


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