Notes and Editorial Reviews
Superb readings of these testingly stratospheric and fragile blooms.
If we know Koechlin at all it is because he orchestrated Fauré’s
Pelléas et Mélisande Suite and Debussy’s ballet
Khamma. In that very superficial sense his standing is akin to that of Caplet.
Rather like Chandos, Hyperion can be relied on for exalted artistic and production standards. It’s completely consistent with these exemplary principles that they have chosen Robert Orledge to document this disc and that full sung texts and sensibly lad-out side-by-side translations into English are set out in the booklet. Probably Hyperion never felt even the temptation to omit these features in the
migration from a full price disc issued two years after the launch of the audio CD to their bargain price Helios line. Nor is this the sole Koechlin representation in their catalogue: there’s Fenwick Smith in the flute music on CDA66414 and Mats Lidström and Bengt Forsberg on CDA67244 and CDA66979 in the Cello Sonata – available now only on the Hyperion archive service. Hänssler have a splendid Koechlin roster much of it due to one-time oboist Heinz Holliger, now conducting, but do not overlook Hyperion.
If you know a little more than the basics about Koechlin it is likely that you will be familiar with the obsession he developed for the now forgotten film star Lilian Harvey (1906-1968). The op. 51 cycle is another product of that phenomenon.
Gladys was the character portrayed by Harvey in Anatol Litvak's film
Calais-Douvres (1931). The seven songs of this 10 minute cycle are dreamy, lulling delights often with a subtly gently minimalist piano part. The most subtle of them all is the tranced
La Naiade (tr 5).
Le Cortege the title track as well as
Hymne à Vénus are similarly starry and Klimtian with a sweetly lyrical and gentle vocal line. More urgently paced among much that is dreamy is
Aux temps des fées.
La Chanson des Ingénues is less hood-eyed - more carefree and easygoing. The orient ocean deep is suggested by
Améthyste - a powerful song you need to hear. It is at times suggestive of slowly tolling giant bells in the abyssal fathoms of the sea. A group of eight songs from the 1890s and taken from opp. 8 and 1 set words by Theodore de Banville. These touch on the soft-focus dreaminess mentioned earlier but they do not sink quite so deeply into a tranced state. Note the mesmerising harp-repetitive motif in
L'Hiver and the positive strong female line projected by
L'Été. The final song of the sequence is
Le Thé. This is passionate, bringing us - through its mellifluously-flowing babbling piano line - full circle to
Si tu le veux (tr. 1).
The only real criticism is the short timing of the disc which looks to have been planned with LP limitations in mind.
Leblanc has a most beautiful voice in this testingly stratospheric yet fragile repertoire and she is matched in skill and insight by Boaz Sharon.
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
Rondels, op 1: No 3: Le thé
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