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Debussy, Mahler: Melodies De Jeunesse

Mahler / Fuchs / Cemin
Release Date: 05/14/2013 
Label:  Aparte   Catalog #: 50   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gustav MahlerClaude Debussy
Performer:  Julia FuchsAlphonse Cemin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MAHLER Frühlingsmorgen. Erinnerung. Hans und Grete. Serenade. Phantasie. Ich ging mit Lust. Ablösung im Sommer. Scheiden und Meiden. Das himmlische Leben. DEBUSSY Reverie. Souhait. Le Lilas. Sérénade. Chanson espagnole. Les Roses. Fête galante. Nuit d’etoiles. L’archet. Clair de lune. Pierrot. Regret. Romance d’Ariel. Apparition Julie Fuchs (sop); Alphonse Cemin (pn) APARTÉ 050 (69:03)


“Mélodies de Read more jeunesse” is the title of Julie Fuchs’s solo debut recording, a smart pairing of a young singer with the youthful songs of two famous composers. There are relatively few available recordings of either Mahler’s Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit or Debussy’s 27 early songs from 1882-84, inspired by and dedicated to the soprano—and object of his unrequited love—Marie Blanche Vasnier, who was 14 years his senior. Here we have a generous sample of each.


Fuchs is a high soprano, soon slated (appropriately) to sing Marzelline and Zerbinetta. Her singing’s chief strengths are agility, charm, and gleaming tone, and, despite some limitations, she’s well worth hearing in both Debussy and Mahler. As one might expect, her native French sounds slightly more comfortable than her German, but in neither language does she fully savor the sound of the words to communicate the texts’ meanings.   


Mahler’s 14 wonderful early songs—of which Fuchs programs eight— already have the melodic distinction of his early “Wunderhorn” style. In the opening group, Fuchs’s unsteadiness on some sustained high notes mars her performance of Erinnerung and it’s a problem that recurs in the disc’s most ambitious offering, Das himmlische Leben. Hans und Grete plays to her strengths in a wonderfully ebullient performance. On an earlier debut recording, the Austrian mezzo Angelika Kirschlager’s readings of the complete Lieder und Gesänge are a bit more idiomatic and assured than Fuchs’s. On an older recording, Lucia Popp, whose vocal range lies somewhere between Kirschlager’s and Fuch’s, manages, with more interpretive variety, to make a deeper impression in this music than either of them.


Many of Debussy’s early songs, with their catchy melodies, might be mistaken for Bizet, Massenet, Godard, or the like. The best known of them, Nuit d’etoiles receives what may be Fuchs’s best performance. The rollicking Chanson espagnole turns out to be a duet, and I’m guessing that the uncredited light tenor joining Fuchs is her pianist, Alphonse Cemin. If so, I compliment his singing, along with his piano playing which, in all but Mahler’s Das himmlische Leben is alert and stylish.


On an all-Debussy disc with James Levine as pianist, Dawn Upshaw includes 12 selections from the Vasnier Songbook, but despite her musical sophistication and involvement with the text, Upshaw’s Debussy strikes me as effortfully sung, her interpretations overly mannered. In the two songs in which Upshaw and Fuchs overlap, Clair de lune and Romance d’Ariel , Fuchs’s healthier vocalism and simpler outlook are a relief. If Debussy’s predictably lovely early songs start to feel slightly monotonous, the problem doesn’t lie with Fuchs’s successful delivery of them, but with a lack of variety and depth that he was to remedy in his subsequent song writing.   


Das himmlische Leben was originally composed for voice and piano, but later became the last movement of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. The piano version is in no way as effective as Mahler’s magical, familiar orchestration, and Cemin’s slowish tempos in the introductions to the opening and closing sections are played with insufficient shape or natural flow. Fuchs sings well here, and manages some very striking effects, such as a well-executed downward slide at “dazu lacht”—bringing to mind Kundry’s famous leap of nearly two octaves on the word “lachte” in the Second Act of Parsifal —but I suspect that she will develop a more compellingly “innocent” interpretation based, paradoxically, on living longer with this elusive, sophisticated music. An orchestra would help.


FANFARE: Paul Orgel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 1: no 1, Frühlingsmorgen by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Julia Fuchs (), Alphonse Cemin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1883; Austria 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 5 Secs. 
2.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 1: no 2, Erinnerung by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Julia Fuchs (), Alphonse Cemin (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1883; Austria 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 1: no 3, Hans und Grethe by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1883; Austria 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
4.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 1: no 4, Serenade aus Don Juan by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1883; Austria 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
5.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 1: no 5, Phantasie aus Don Juan by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1883; Austria 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
6.
Rêverie by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
7.
Poèmes (7) de Banville: no 2, Souhait by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1881; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
8.
Le lilas by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1882 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs. 
9.
Sérénade "Las, Colombine a fermé le volet" by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1882 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs. 
10.
Chanson espagnole by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1883; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
11.
Les roses by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1882 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
12.
Poèmes (7) de Banville: no 7, Fête galante by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1882; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs. 
13.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 2: no 2, Ich ging mit Lust by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1890; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 5 Minutes 41 Secs. 
14.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 3: no 2, Ablösung im Sommer by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1890; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
15.
Lieder und Gesänge, vol 3: no 3, Scheiden and Meiden by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 25 Secs. 
16.
Nuit d'étoiles by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1880; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
17.
L'Archet by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1881; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
18.
Clair de lune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1882; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
19.
Pierrot by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1881; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 1 Minutes 53 Secs. 
20.
Regret: Devant le ciel by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Julia Fuchs (), Alphonse Cemin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1884; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 
21.
La romance d'Ariel by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1884; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 4 Minutes 44 Secs. 
22.
Apparition by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1884; France 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
23.
Das himmlische Leben, song for voice & piano (or orchestra) by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Alphonse Cemin (Piano), Julia Fuchs ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 02/10/1892 
Venue:  l'Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre à Pa 
Length: 9 Minutes 50 Secs. 

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