Paul Derenne - Rare French Songs
The title of this CD is something of an understatement: rare songs. Even the names of some of the composers will be unfamiliar to many – Michel Ciry, Marcelle de Manziarly, Marcel Delannoy and Maxime Jacob. Paul Derenne himself is known for his performance as Gonzalve in Ansermet’s 1953 recording of Ravel’s
The earliest items on this compilation are three light-opera arias, one from Pierre Petit’s
The most substantial pieces here are three groups of songs, Jeux rustiques by Louis Beydts,
Renaud Machart, the author of the excellent essays on Derenne and his composers, suggests that the ‘zoological style’ with which so many French composers toyed was essentially an excuse for light-hearted humour. Marcel Delannoy’s Le serpent, Henri Cliquet-Pleyel’s settings of fables by Charles Morlaix, and Marcelle de Manziarly’s of two better-known fables by La Fontaine all come into this category. Six of Louis Durey’s versions of Apollinaire’s Le bestiaire are more serious. (These were composed at the same time as Poulenc’s – neither knew the other was at work on the same idea.)
The sound on these radio tapes is as clear as a modern recording, the voice a little forward, with Henri Sauguet’s dedicated playing of other people’s music – only one of his own songs is included, a poem by Rabindranath Tagore translated by Gide, Le jour ou la mort viendra frapper a ta porte. Derenne’s voice by the late 1950s is occasionally strained on the high notes but otherwise unimpaired, and his singing is in the best tradition of light-voiced French tenors. What a huge literature of French song from the mid-twentieth century there is waiting to be rediscovered. This is a disc of the utmost fascination and importance.'