BBC Music Magazine - - REVIEWS -

De­bussy: Ari­ettes ou­bliées (arr. Dean); La mer; Fauré: Péné­lope – Pre­lude; Pel­léas et Mélisande suite (arr. Koech­lin) Mag­dalena Kozˇená (mezzo-so­prano); Deutsches Sym­phonie-or­ch­ester Berlin/ Robin Tic­ciati Linn CKD 550 68:02 mins

It wouldn’t be hard to mis­take the Pre­lude to Gabriel Fauré’s opera Péné­lope for a small chunk of Par­si­fal that got away. Though Fauré was never an ar­dent Wag­ne­r­ian, its in­ward yet quest­ing id­iom seems to have re­turned with him to Paris from Bayreuth. Yet his ear­lier incidental mu­sic for Pel­léas et Mélisande also pos­sesses an in­ef­fa­ble mys­tery quite char­ac­ter­is­tic of his own work.

Robin Tic­ciati, who be­comes mu­sic direc­tor of the DSO Berlin this au­tumn, pairs Fauré with De­bussy: the Ari­ettes Ou­bliées, which in­clude some valu­able early Ver­laine set­tings, and La mer, the master­piece writ­ten around the time De­bussy eloped with Emma Bar­dac, Fauré’s for­mer lover. The De­bussy songs have been or­ches­trated by Brett Dean, whose tech­ni­color sonic imag­i­na­tion brings these elu­sive set­tings into vivid fo­cus. Mag­dalena Ko✏ená’s voice is far from con­ven­tional in De­bussy, and one might some­times wish for more de­fined French dic­tion, but her tone has a glow­ing in­ner ra­di­ance and ac­cess to a seem­ingly lim­it­less wealth of colours. The re­sult is be­guil­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tions, per­formed with con­trolled in­ten­sity.

Tic­ciati draws from his new orches­tra play­ing of yearn­ing Ro­man­ti­cism that al­most bursts at the seams. While La mer is beau­ti­fully shaped and builds to a suit­ably el­e­men­tal cli­max in the ‘Dia­logue du vent et de la mer’, the Fauré is also un­usu­ally full-blooded in ex­pres­sive terms and firmly marked rhyth­mi­cally, cast­ing the com­poser’s al­leged ‘pudeur’ in a rich, rather dif­fer­ent light.

The orches­tral sound does not en­tirely match the op­u­lence of the Berlin Phil­har­monic and Simon Rat­tle, but if Tic­ciati is aim­ing for a sim­i­lar qual­ity, there could be worse role mod­els. Jes­sica Duchen

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