DEBUSSY; HAHN 'French Vocal Music'

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Vocal

Label: BR Klassik

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 56

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: 900529

900529. DEBUSSY; HAHN 'French Vocal Music'

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
(Les) Angélus Claude Debussy, Composer
Bavarian Radio Chorus
Howard Arman, Conductor
(La) Damoiselle élue Claude Debussy, Composer
Angela Brower, Soprano
Christiane Karg, Soprano
Gerold Huber, Piano
Ariettes oubliées, Movement: L'ombre des arbes (1885) Claude Debussy, Composer
Christiane Karg, Soprano
Gerold Huber, Piano
Salut printemps Claude Debussy, Composer
Christiane Karg, Soprano
Gerold Huber, Piano
Etudes Latines (Song-Cycle) Reynaldo Hahn, Composer
Anna Maria Palii, Soprano
Christiane Karg, Soprano
Daniel Behle, Tenor
Gerold Huber, Piano
Max Hanft, Piano
Nikolaus Pfannkuch, Tenor
Tareq Nazmi, Bass
Chansons grises, Movement: Paysage triste Reynaldo Hahn, Composer
Christiane Karg, Soprano
Gerold Huber, Piano

This appealing album of fin de siècle works – mostly for solo voice and chorus – by Claude Debussy and Reynaldo Hahn is centred around soprano Christiane Karg, her regular piano accompanist Gerold Huber and the Bavarian Radio Chorus. The first half features La damoiselle élue, Debussy’s cantata setting the 1850 poem ‘The Blessed Damozel’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, while the second focuses on Hahn’s Études latines.

La damoiselle élue is usually recorded in its orchestral version. Debussy made a piano reduction in 1892, which features on a Glossa recording of the composer’s music for the Prix de Rome conducted by Hervé Niquet. Here, however, is a version for two pianos (Huber and Max Hanft) by the conductor Howard Arman, drawn from both the orchestral original and Debussy’s piano version. The ladies of the Bavarian Radio Chorus are given more distance than Niquet’s Flemish Radio Choir, aiding a pleasant resonant halo, and Karg and mezzo Angela Brower are far more
stylish soloists. Karg is especially fine in
‘Je voudrais qu’il fut déjà près de moi’, lamenting the absence of her lover, her light, crystalline soprano sounding pure and unforced.

Other Debussy on the album includes the choral song Salut printemps, a gentle vernal greeting composed when he was 20 but only published posthumously. Marius-François Gaillard’s delicate piano transcription captures the mood. Quite the loveliest item on the disc, however, is the song ‘Les angélus’, transcribed by Clytus Gottwald for a cappella women’s choir, including charming bell effects.

Two settings of the same Verlaine poem aid the seamless transition from Debussy to Hahn: ‘L’ombre des arbres dans la rivière embrumée’ from the former’s Ariettes oubliées (Karg exquisite), Hahn setting it under the title ‘Paysage triste’ in his Sept Chansons grises. It is here sung in a gorgeous version for soprano, choir and piano.

Hahn chose 10 of Leconte de Lisle’s 18 Études latines – one of those he excluded was ‘Lydia’, already set by Gabriel Fauré in his Op 4. They are songs that celebrate French antiquity, rather as Debussy himself did in his Chansons de Bilitis. A choir is used in three of them, including ‘Phidylé’ (a text memorably set by Henri Duparc) for choir and bass, here the excellent Tareq Nazmi.

The only blot on this satisfying album of unusual repertoire is the lack of translations in the booklet, although at least the French texts are included.

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