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À sa guitare
Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)
Thibaut Garcia (guitar)
rec. August 2020 & April 2021, Studio de l'Orchestre National d'Île-de-France, Alfortville, Paris, France
ERATO 9029500570 [69:03]

This is a collaboration between two Frenchmen, the renowned countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and the classical guitarist Thibaut Garcia. The programme covers four centuries, several eras and several cultures, from Renaissance composer John Dowland to Ariel Ramírez who died in 2010. The album title, meaning To her guitar, comes from the first track, Francis Poulenc’s mélodie. The works are short, attractive and undemanding, and many of them are easily recognized. The twenty-two single-movement pieces include fifteen transcriptions for voice with guitar and three solo guitar pieces. The order, as the artists say, is in the manner of an ‘unexpected journey… with each track being in harmony with the previous one, or echoing it’.

Poulenc’s À sa guitare is a setting of a text by French Renaissance poet Pierre de Ronsard, written for French singer and actress Yvonne Printemps as part of the incidental music to Édouard Bourdet’s stage play La Reine Margot (based on the life of the 16th-century French queen consort Marguerite de Valois). In a pleasing pure tone, Jaroussky intimately communicates Ronsard’s strong sense of world weariness.

Barbara (the stage name of Monique Serf) was a popular Parisian singer, composer and songwriter who performed in cabaret style. She came to prominence in the 1960s. Septembre (Quel joli temps) is an entirely engaging chanson with Sophie Makhno’s moving text about lovers’ parting. Jaroussky expertly captures the appealing reflective quality and the melancholy that often pervades Barbara’s songwriting.

When I am laid in earth, known as Dido’s Lament, is the death scene from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas with a libretto by Nahum Tate. The queen of Carthage is betrayed by her lover the Trojan prince Aeneas, who is due to sail away. Jaroussky is utterly convincing in Dido’s final aria as she dies by her own hand saying ‘death is welcome’ and pleading ‘Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.’ Both performers do full justice to this masterpiece.

Gerardo Matos Rodríguez’s immediately recognisable tango La cumparsita (the little street procession) is hard to resist. Garcia must have played this piece many times but he clearly relishes the foot tapping and memorable rhythms, which sound invigorating in his hands.

The sound quality of the album is top-drawer. Jaroussky sings in six languages, and all sung texts are in the booklet, but disappointingly no translations. There is no essay, only Arthur Dreyfus’s interview with the artists.

À sa guitare, a partnership of Philippe Jaroussky and Thibaut Garcia, is an irresistible collection of songs for countertenor and guitar, most beautifully performed and recorded.
Michael Cookson
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
1. À sa guitare (1935) (from Quatre mélodies de Ronsard)
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
2. Come again! Sweet love doth now invite
attributed to Giuseppe Tommaso Giovanni GIORDANI (1751-1798)
3. Caro mio ben
Francesca CACCINI (1587- after 1641)
4. Chi desia di saper
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
5. El mirar de la maja (from 12 Tonadillas en estilo antiguo)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
6. Erlkönig, D. 328
7. Sarabande pour guitare, FP 179
Barbara (Monique SERF) (1930-1997)
8. Septembre (Quel joli temps)
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
9. If music be the food of love, Z.379
attributed to John DOWLAND
10. In darkness let me dwell (in A Musical Banquet)
Luiz BONFÁ (1922-2001)
11. Manhã de Carnaval, from the original film score to Orfeu Negro (1959)
Dilermando REIS (1916-1977)
12. Xodó da Baiana
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
13. Abendempfindung, K.523
Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816)
14. Nel cor più non mi sento (from L'amor contrastato, ossia la molinara)
Ariel RAMIREZ (1921-2010)
15. Alfonsina y el mar (1969)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
16. Au bord de l’eau, Op. 8, No. 1
17. Nocturne, Op. 43, No. 2
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
18. Di tanti palpiti (from opera Tancredi, act I)
Gerardo MATOS RODRÍGUEZ (1897-1948)
19. La cumparsita
20. When I am laid in earth (Dido’s Lament, from Dido and Aeneas, Z.626)
Federico García LORCA (1898-1936)
21. Anda, jaleo
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
22. Il est quelqu’un sur terre (from Folksong Arrangements)


Thibaut Garcia: 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 [with José Ferreira], 15, 17, 22
David Jacques: 3, 6, 13, 14, 16
José de Azpiazu: 19

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