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August de BOECK (1865-1937)
A Bouquet of French and Flemish Songs
Track listing below review
Liesbeth Devos (soprano)
Jozef de Beenhouwer (piano)
rec. DeSingel International Arts Campus, Antwerp, 11-30 December 2011. DDD
PHAEDRA PH 92075 [66:33]

Experience Classicsonline

Flemish composer and organist August De Boeck is relatively little known outside Belgium, but his discography is slowly growing. This is thanks above all to Phaedra's extensive 'Fields of Flanders' series - dedicated to the works of Belgian composers, and constituting three quarters of their entire catalogue. This, volume 75, is the fourth monograph devoted to De Boeck's music, with individual works having appeared on a further four.
Besides the sixteen stand-alone songs, the programme includes three from De Boeck's operas and a couple of short cycles. Nearly all are true miniatures, often running to less than two minutes. The songs deal with the usual subjects of love, nature, regret and nostalgia. Set with heart-felt attention to the emotional imagery of contemporary French- and Dutch-language poems, they are wistfully tuneful, often delicately fragrant songs, reminiscent of Fauré and, the later ones, Debussy.
Liesbeth Devos (stress on the second syllable) has an appealing voice, clear, controlled and slightly melancholic in tone, ideal for De Boeck. She is clearly a native Flemish/Dutch speaker, as there is a slight foreign accent in her French, most noticeable in her frequent non-rendering of nasalisation. Nonetheless, to all intents and purposes she is fluent in both languages, fully cognisant of the linguistic nuances and phrasing possibilities. Her pianist is the experienced Jozef de Beenhouwer, now somewhat older than the booklet photo, but still going strong. Some will remember his recording in the Nineties for CPO, the first complete edition of Clara Schumann's solo piano works (3 CD box set, still available on 999758-2). More germane, he appeared very recently in a fine recording of De Boeck's Piano Concerto on Phaedra (review). The first part of De Boeck's surname, incidentally - pronounced roughly as in French - should always be capitalised in Belgian usage, and also in Dutch usage if his first name or initial is not used. The second part is pronounced approximately as 'boo' with a 'k' on the end (like the northern English 'book'). However rendered, it is a name that deserves to be better known.
Sound quality is very good, albeit volume levels are low. There is what sounds like a rather obvious editing join in 'Mignonne'. The booklet runs to an impressive 50 pages of considerable detail, although much space is occupied by trilingual notes and biographies, not to mention the full sung texts in their original French or Dutch, well translated (sometimes in summary) into English and Dutch/French. The CD case is of the digipak variety, the booklet sliding into a sleeve under the front cover.
Collected reviews and contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk
Track listing
Frissons de Fleurs (1915) [3:38]
Petite Eglise de Campagne (1919) [4:19]
Cinq Mélodies (1921) [9:01]
Het Groetend Kindje (c.1905) [1:44]
Stances à Marylyse [6:21]
Deux Nouvelles Stances à Marylyse (1934) [2:33]
Princess Sunray's Aria (from: Winter Night's Dream) (1902) [4:17]
C'est en Toi, Bien-Aimé (1917) [2:54]
Toutes Blanches (c.1917) [1:29]
Epitaphe (1937) [1:15]
Francesca's Cantilena (from: The Emerald Road) (1913-20) [3:58]
Marie (1889) [2:03]
Le Rideau de Ma Voisine (1893) [1:23]
La Prière (1893) [2:27]
L'Enfant au Berceau (c.1893) [2:08]
Mignonne (c.1904) [2:34]
J'Avais un Coeur (c.1904) [2:07]
Chanson ('Ombre du Bois') (1913) [3:07]
Pour Tes Dents de Nacre [1:40]
Chanson d'Avril (1924) [1:54]
Vrede (1907) [2:58]
Het Kerksken van te Lande (c.1918) [2:43]

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