BBC Music Magazine

Into the Fire


Debussy: Trois chansons de Bilitis; F Gruber: Silent Night; Jake Heggie: Camille Claudel – Into the Fire; Lekeu: Molto adagio sempre cantante doloroso; R Strauss: Schlichte Weisen, Op. 21 Nos 1 & 2; Die Nacht; Morgen, etc.

Joyce Didonato (mezzo-soprano); Brentano Quartet

Erato 9029564219 74:57 mins

The most substantia­l item in this live recording from Wigmore Hall

(21 December 2017) is Camille Claudel: Into the Fire, Jake Heggie’s song-cycle to a text by Gene Scheer composed in 2012 for Joyce Didonato and the Alexander String Quartet (here replaced by the Brentano Quartet). Its subject is the sculptor Camille Claudel – for a time Rodin’s lover, but placed in an asylum for the last 30 years of her life.

The result is a well-crafted score over 30 minutes in length. The playing is excellent, while Didonato supplies her usual command and commitment, though there is little originalit­y in the piece itself. The rest of the programme dates from the last decades of the 19th century, and Heggie’s language feels more or less contempora­ry with that period.

Heggie skilfully arranges for string quartet Debussy’s Trois

Chansons de Bilitis (1897), with Didonato the calm and collected deliverer of Pierre Louÿs’s charged and occasional­ly erotic texts.

In the half-dozen Strauss songs arranged by Misha Amory and Mark Steinberg, Didonato’s approach is musicianly and light of touch, entering into each item with measured tone and a focus on the text. Lekeu’s purely instrument­al and quietly intense Molto adagio forms a welcome bonus. George Hall



 ??  ?? ‘Light and musicianly’: Joyce Didonato is distinctiv­e in Strauss
‘Light and musicianly’: Joyce Didonato is distinctiv­e in Strauss
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