Stéphane Degout on recording Brahms's song cycle 'La Belle Maguelone'
Friday, December 15, 2023
Stéphane Degout reflects on his new live recording of Brahms's 'La Belle Maguelone'
Since my early studies, recital repertoire has always been a vital mainstay of my work. Love of poetry and language, and the music and colours of the poetry and the language, encapsulating great imagination and strong emotions in miniatures, these have always touched me.
Magelone has a special place in the repertoire and in my love for songs. The story, an oral legend first printed in the 15th century in south of France, is a moving tale of pure love and extraordinary vicissitudes of fortune.
The journey of the legend itself through Europe over the centuries to Germany, where Ludwig Tieck translated it into the poems which Johannes Brahms set to music is also a fantastic tale!
When I decided to eventually perform this song cycle, two things were very clear to me: I wanted to come back to the original edition in French (for the spoken texts) and to ask Marielou Jacquard to sing the female characters. The team was completed by two great artists, the narrator Roger Germser and the pianist Alain Planès.
The success we had during this recital tour convinced us that simple love stories with happy endings still touch people afresh every time, and can bring some much-needed light and emotion in a turbulent and frequently dark world.