Songs with Orchestra
First world recording of 22 songs
Massenet was not only the composer of Manon and Werther. In the shadow of his stage works slumber many mélodies decked out in subtle and delicate orchestrations, which we are delighted to revive here. These previously unrecorded works have been entrusted to a team of first-rate artists, most of them fervent champions of French poetry and its musical settings.
The Palazzetto Bru Zane team has been taking interest in mélodies with orchestral accompaniment for years, and just unveiled a body of Massenet’s work that were virtually unknown. How could such a body of work have remained unpublished for so long, despite the quality of the poems (some of them by Hugo), the originality of their orchestration, the care lavished on the vocal writing which makes them a real pleasure for the performer, and the signature of such a celebrated composer? This mass of compositions – probably more than a thousand titles in all – consists mostly of pieces that are still unpublished and, for that reason, have never been recorded. To pay appropriate homage to the variety of this repertory, to its atmospheres that combine the rusticity of the musette with the quivering lyricism of love and the fervour of mystical ecstasy, one must be meticulous in the choice of solo. The crystalline voice of Jodie Devos, the bright timbre of Cyrille Dubois and the flexibility of Chantal Santon Jeffery are matched by the intense vocal chiaroscuro of Nicole Car and Étienne Dupuis, and the oft-praised shimmering line of Véronique Gens in the mélodie, of which she is one of the leading specialists. The Orchestre de Chambre de Paris encounters here a repertory ideally suited to its size, and Hervé Niquet’s precise and lively baton skilfully grasps and structures Massenet’s kaleidoscope of musical intentions.
Recorded at the Salle des concerts de la Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris, from 17 to 20 November 2020
Palazzetto Bru Zane musical editions
Texts in French, English and German – Sung texts in French and English
Articles by Jean-Christophe Branger, Alexandre Dratwicki and Hervé Oléon
1- Pensée de printemps [Cyrille Dubois]