Monday 28 October 2013

Ailish Tynan - Faure Melodies

In the latest CD in Rosenblatt Recitals series on Opus Arte, soprano Ailish Tynan and pianist Iain Burnside perform a selection of melodies by Gabriel Faure. Famously long-lived Faure (1845 - 1924) wrote songs throughout his life, those selected on this new disc range from Mai, Op.1 No.2 (published in 1871) to the late cycle Le Jardin Clos, Op.106 published in 1915 when he was 70 as well as a group of his Verlaine settings including CInq Melodies de Venise Op.58.

The disc opens with a pair of settings of Leconte de Lisle. Nell, Op.18 No.1 from 1878 sets a text loosely based on Robert Burns (the Nell of the title is Burn's first love, Nell Kirkpatrick!). Tynan sings the song with an easy fluidity.  Les roses d'Isphahan (The roses of Isfahan o 1884) is an oriental love-song given and intimate and subtle performance which gets more intense as the song progresses.

Tynan's voice has a nice forward bright sound with a clear top and quite a narrow focus. She has an expressive use of vibrato, and a vocal style which is very distinctive. On first listening I did worry that her technique might sound too stylised in these songs, but it didn't worry me on repeated listening. And you cannot but warm to the lyric beauty of her voice.

The first of the Verlaine settings on the disc Spleen (1887-8) sets a poem written by Verlaine when he was in England with Rimbaud in 1873, it reflects his depressed state of mind; the title, in English, is Faure's own. Here Burnside's shimmering piano is complemented by a finely graded performance from Tynan. Perhaps Faure's best known song, Apres un reve (After a dream - 1877) sets a text by Romain Bussine based on a Tuscan folk-text. Another Verlaine setting, Claire de Lune (Moonlight - 1887-8) sees Burnside's subtle piano playing supporting Tynan's fined down tone in a performance which is exquisitely understated. You can do too much in Faure's songs, and both Tynan and Burnside seem to have captured the essence of being expressive whilst not doing too much. Notre Amour (Our Love - c1879) uses a text by Arman Silvestre, a love song which starts quiet and intense and then builds to the heights of passion.

We take a leap in time with Le Jardin Clos (The Walled Garden 1914), moving to the very end of Faure's career. The songs set texts by the Belgian symbolist Charles Van Leberghe, using the image of a garden as a reflection on love. Faure's style here is fined down, and notoriously illusive; whilst he did not try to keep up with developments in 20th century music it is clear that his style has changed and developed. There is a certain chromaticism and austerity to the pieces, they are far less easily apprehended than the grateful songs of his early period.

Exaucement (Fulfiment) is small but perfectly formed, whilst Quand tu plonges tes yeux dans mes yeux (When you immerse your eyes in mine) is dark, more complex and remarkably chromatic in feel. Le messagere (The Messenger) opens as a bright invocation then becomes more complex rising to a very intent passion.  For Je me poserai sur ton coeur (I shall alight on your heart) Tynan brings to the song a lovely controlled rapture. Dans la nymphee (In the grotto) is slower and rather austere; there is a slow build, litany like with a steady tread in the piano as the poet invokes a description of the beloved in garden. Dans la penombre (In the half-light) is confiding and conversational, and even seems to start mid-phrase as if we were overhearing something. Il m'est cher, Amour, le bandeau (My love, the blindfold is dear to me) is a vivid list of delights, with constant movement in voice and piano. Finally Inscription sur le sable (Inscription on the sand) is subtly shaped, with a beautiful sense of line.

Mai (May - 1862) is a Victor Hugo setting from the very beginning of Faure's career, a balanced and very touching piece. A further Armand Silvestre setting Chanson d'amour (Song of Love - 1882) is redolent with delightful charm. The second Hugo setting, L'absent (The Absent One - 1882) combines a fragile charm with a lovely transparent piano part, overall Tynan and Burnside convey a nice sense of sadness. Lydia (c1870) is the final Leconte de Lisle setting on the disc,a rather hypnotically beautiful paean of praise to a Grecian nymph.

Two of Faure's Cinq Melodies de Venise (Five Melodies from Venice - 1891) were actually written in Venice, and first performed there on a boat owned by Winaretta Singer, the great artistic patron. The cycle sets a sequence of poems by Verlaine.

Mandoline (Mandolin) has a delightful piano part evoking the mandolin of the title, as complement to Tynan's lovely flowing, carefree vocal line. En Sourdine (Muted) is all calm beauty, with a poised, quiet ending. Green is rather haunting with a highly fascinating and unsettled melody. A Clymene (To Clymene) is another complex melody, and a haunting song. Finally C'est l'extase (It is rapture) is another unsettled song, its wandering melody leading us on.

The Cd booklet includes a brief article about the music, and full texts and translations.

This is a delightful programme, Tynan and Burnside succeed in bringing these evocative songs to life. There is a sense that, in Tynan's performance the words come second to the music with her diction idiomatic but understated. On repeated listening I came to love these performances and will hope that we might get more Faure from this team in the future.

Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Nell Op.18 No.1 (1878) [2.00]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Les roses d'Isphahan Op.39 No.4 (1884) [3.14]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Spleen Op.51 No.3 (1887-8) [2.07]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Apres un reve Op.7 No.1 (1877) [2.44]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Clair de lune Op.46 No.2 (1887-8) [3.03]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Notre amour Op.23 No.2 (1879) [2.07]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Le Jardin clos Op.106 (1914) [13.02]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Mai Op.1 No.2 (1862) [2.19]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Chanson d'amour Op.27 No.1 (1882) [2.19]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - L'absent Op.5 No.3 (1871) [4.04]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Lydia Op.4 No.2 (c1870) [2.39]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Cinq Melodies de Venise Op.56 (1891) [12.29]
Ailish Tynan (soprano)
Iain Burnside (piano)
Recorded 13-15 July 2009, St Paul's Church, New Southgate, London
OPUS ARTE OA CD9018 D 1 CD[51.55]

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