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Louis DUREY (1888-1979)
Durey Rediscovered
Six Madrigaux de Mallarmé (1919) [6:15]
Deux Lieder Romantiques (1919) [3:49]
Trois Poèmes de Paul Valéry (1921-23) [5:48]
Deux poèmes d’Ho Chi Minh (1951) [3:26]
Cantate de la rose et de l’amour (1965) [17:33]
Quatre stances de Jean Moréas (1935) [6:13]
Grève de la Faim (1950) [5:31]
Une Femme du Sud Chante (1950) [3:12]
Trois Poèmes de Paul Éluard (1952-53) [8:01]
Quatre poèmes de Minuit (1944) [6:26]
William Burden (tenor) (Mallarmé, Ho Chi Minh, Moréas); Sidney Outlaw (baritone) (Romantiques, Femme du Sud, Minuit); Jesse Blumberg (baritone) (Valéry, Grève, Eluard); Adriana Zabala (mezzo) (Cantate); Jocelyn Dueck (piano)
rec. not specified
NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS FCR184 [66:36]

Music journalist and composer Henri Collet dubbed Louis Durey, Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud "Les Six". Of this half-dozen the name of Louis Durey is more likely to be the one you forget when someone challenges you on Counterpoint or Musical Trivia. Tailleferre has had more of a profile than Durey. It's good that pianist, professor, coach and music researcher Jocelyn Dueck has, in recent years, been at the forefront of Durey scholarship. She has now, through this art-song project, added invaluably to this composer's presence in the catalogue. Durey's family entrusted Dueck with this revival and with his vocal piano manuscripts of which she has a collection of sixteen cycles and stand-alone songs. We are told that Durey, on the one hand "spent time reconstructing French Renaissance music", but also composed many vocal pieces "engaged in the political climate of his era".

Durey's career spanned the twentieth century with concise, lyrical, tuneful, searching and provocative songs: a patrimony that enriches the wide field of French mélodie. These are far from long-winded: 41 songs in 67 minutes. The longest cycle (15 songs) here runs to short of 18 minutes. All are in the French language and the flow of compositions recorded on this CD began in the year after the Great War when the composer was 31 and ended in 1965, some 14 years before Durey's death.

The Six Madrigaux de Mallarmé start with a delicately cooing and lilting song (Offert avec un verre d'eau) rather like Poulenc but ends chaste and grim with Schoenbergian piano notes ringing out in stony defiance. Then come Deux Lieder Romantiques from the same year. It's a strange - and presumably carefully calculated - title that mixes the two languages. The second of the two, Tu es telle qu’une fleur, has a gently ringing piano part. The Trois Poèmes de Paul Valéry continue the tendency towards mournful beauty with a shade more defiant variety in La Fausse morte. I might have expected to see songs setting Ho Chi Minh in Alan Bush's catalogue. Durey's 1951 settings have both delicacy and resilience. The piano part illustrates, with a trace of sternness, the references to 'maps' and 'partisans'. Cantate de la rose et de l’amour is the latest piece here. These little lyrical gems for soprano run between 0.48 and 1:39. There is nothing here to test the listener's attention span. Some of them adopt the relaxed pastoral mood adopted by Milhaud in his first two symphonies, Suite Provençale and Chansons de Ronsard. It's remarkable that Durey was writing in this idiom in the mid-1960s.

Back to the tenor for Quatre stances de Jean Moréas with their pleading tone and idyllically rippling piano figuration. There are two isolated songs from 1950: the mistily despairing Grève de la Faim and Une Femme du Sud Chante. The latter has sections spoken in a simulation of the fatigue described by African-American poet Langston Hughes. His poetry was also set by Weill and Zemlinsky. The spoken segments lend the song a chill comparable with the whispered sinister magic to be found in Warlock's The Curlew. From three years later comes Trois Poèmes de Paul Éluard. Their mix of bitterness, sans-souci and what I take to be the phantoms of the German Occupation is nicely channelled by Jesse Blumberg. Spoken episodes are chillingly used in Des menaces à la victoire. A bleak and murderous wartime is sharply honed in the unrelieved Malédiction - the third song of Quatre poèmes de Minuit (1944). These songs carry a grim and tragic message until the final Leurs noms bénis with its shiver of sadness and chastening joy: "Tomorrow their blessed names will be / thousands of birds / Perched on the edge of bouquets for the dead."

With one blip the informative booklet exemplifies excellence, style, simplicity and clarity pari passu. The blip? That the libretto for the songs is not numbered at all so as you leaf through the texts you cannot easily relate what you are hearing to the disc-tracks. Otherwise very well done indeed, including the scene-setting essay. The sung French is printed with English translation opposite.

If you are looking to push the boat out further into Durey waters there is a piano music CD from Calliope with pianists Madeleine Chacun and Françoise Petit. This New Focus disc nicely dovetails with Hyperion's Louis Durey song collection from François Le Roux and Graham Johnson. It only "bumps" when it comes to two songs: Deux Lieder Romantiques appearing on both. The Le Roux survey concentrates exclusively on songs from the years 1918-19. Le Roux also tackled Durey's Basque songs with string quartet for the Swiss Gallo label.

The present well-recorded collection serves to transform Durey's presence from a niche to a deeper shelf.

Rob Barnett

Contents

Six Madrigaux de Mallarmé
William Burden, tenor, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
1 Offert avec un verre d'eau [1:01]
2 Jour de l'an [0:55]
3 Départ [1:12]
4 Eventail I [0:47]
5 1er Avril 1887 [1:14]
6 Eventail II [1:11]

Deux Lieder Romantiques
Sidney Outlaw, baritone, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
7 Mon pâle visage [2:44]
8 Tu es telle qu’une fleur [1:05]

Trois Poèmes de Paul Valéry
Jesse Blumberg, baritone, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
9 L’insinuant [2:01]
10 Intérieur [1:34]
11 La Fausse morte [2:13]

Deux poèmes d’Ho Chi Minh
William Burden, tenor, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
12 Je lis [1:34]
13 Nuit d’automne [1:52]

Cantate de la rose et de l’amour
Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
14 Introduction/Une rose a pris pour visage… [1:40]
15 Une rose n’est qu’une rose… [1:00]
16 Une rose de crepuscule… [1:02]
17 Une rose qui s’émerveille… [0:48]
18 Une rose qui désespère… [1:40]
19 Une rose à d’autres ressemble… [0:57]
20 Une rose, cette innocence… [0:54]
21 Une rose, même d’automne… [1:14]
22 Une rose vient de me dire… [0:59]
23 Une rose toujours se cache… [1:12]
24 Une rose, cette étincelle… [0:56]
25 Une rose rouge m’accable… [1:27]
26 Une rose ne ressuscite… [1:00]
27 Une rose: un coeur se divise… [1:19]
28 Une rose, ma confiance…/… Z. Coda [1:39]

Quatre stances de Jean Moréas
William Burden, tenor, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
29 Belle lune d’argent [1:35]
30 Roses, en bracelet… [1:18]
31 Quand reviendra l’automne [1:45]
32 Eau printanière [1:37]

33 Grève de la Faim [5:31]
Jesse Blumberg, baritone, Jocelyn Dueck, piano

34 Une Femme du Sud Chante [3:12]
Sidney Outlaw, baritone, Jocelyn Dueck, piano

Trois Poèmes de Paul Eluard
Jesse Blumberg, baritone, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
35 Bonne Justice [1:55]
36 Dit des Trieuses [0:52]
37 Des menaces à la victoire [5:16]

Quatre poèmes de Minuit
Sidney Outlaw, baritone, Jocelyn Dueck, piano
38 Ma haine [1:22]
39 Les deux lumières [1:21]
40 Malédiction [2:19]
41 Leurs noms bénis [1:28]

 

 




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