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The Art of Camille Maurane
Camille Maurane (baritone)
Lily Bienvenu (piano: Duparc, Fauré)
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux/Jean Fournet (Debussy, Ravel)
rec. 7 & 8 October 1954 (Debussy), 17 & 18 November 1955 (Ravel), Salle Apollo, Paris; February 1954 (Duparc), February 1955 (Fauré), France
No texts enclosed. Mono
ELOQUENCE 482 4947 [45:37 + 37:47]

This is what French melodies should sound like: a light, slightly reedy, slim-lined baryton Martin (i.e. a tenoral timbre within the baritone range but lacking the lowest notes of, say, a Verdi baritone). He is supposed to have excellent legato and nuances a-plenty, and impeccable enunciation. You need only listen to Duparc’s L’Invitation au voyage (CD 1 tr. 1) to know that this is the authentic thing. Maybe even better is the soft and immensely beautiful singing of Soupir (CD 1 tr. 2). There is no artificiality here. The nuances and phrases come from within, and Lily Bienvenu makes the piano part shimmer like reflexions in water. La Vague et la cloche (CD 1 tr. 5) is strong and powerful without ever being strained, Lamento (CD 1 tr. 6) so inward and restrained, and the end of La Vie antérieure (CD 1 tr. 7) is like a whisper. In fact each song is a model of how to sing this repertoire, up to Chanson triste (CD 1 tr. 12), possibly the most beautiful of Duparc’s songs, sung here with the utmost sensitivity. His preserved songs are few in number but perfect and discriminatingly selected for publishing. Most of his compositions he simply destroyed. This dozen songs recorded in February 1954 can still be regarded as models for generations to come. The mono sound is fully acceptable even today.

On Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson, recorded one year later, he lavishes the same care and sensitivity. These inexhaustible songs form what many, including myself, regard as Fauré’s best song cycle. Has ever Puisque l’aube grandit (CD 2 tr. 2) been sung with more lyrical beauty? Or La lune blanche luit dans les bois? It’s an unalloyed pleasure to listen to the cycle. No rough edges, no false expressions, the words flow so naturally, carried on the music. I can’t resist quoting Danièle Pistone’s words in the liner notes about Camille Maurane’a attitude towards his pupils at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, where he taught between 1952 and 1980: “He would tell them to work on the words before the melody so as to achieve a kind of speech in song, not losing the thread of the phrase and never distorting vowels, pronouncing consonants vigorously but not crudely. For later generations these words, coupled with his own singing on these two discs may be a lesson as good as any.

Also the two mini-cycles by Debussy and Ravel are certainly idiomatic, and the mono sound is still good enough to convey the felicities of the orchestrations – besides of course the sheer singing of Camille Maurane. There is dramatic bite in the first of Debussy’s ballads, but most of all it is the lyric qualities of both the music and the readings that are in the foreground. The third ballad, Ballade des femmes de Paris, is sung in high spirits and tongue in cheek.

Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée was his last completed work. It was intended for G. W. Pabst’s film version of Don Quixote with Fyodor Chaliapin in the title role. But due to Ravel’s illness the composition was so long in the making that Pabst instead turned to Jacques Ibert, and he promptly delivered. With the help of friends Ravel managed to complete the work and it was published in both piano and orchestral versions. The concluding song, Chanson à boire with its Spanish rhythms, is Ravel at his most folksy. It is something of a miracle that Ravel was able to muster such lightness of tone at a time when his disease had progressed to a stage when he could hardly write his name.

The singing throughout is as exquisite as anywhere else on this twofer and anyone at all interested in French melodies should at once acquire this set. There have been – and still are – several good singers of this repertoire but Camille Maurane is definitely at the front edge.

Göran Forsling

Contents
CD 1 [45:37]
Henri DUPARC (1848 – 1933)
1. L’Invitation au voyage [4:20]
2. Soupir [3:34]
3. Testament [3:32]
4. Sérénade Florentine [2:06]
5. La Vague et la cloche [5:24]
6. Lamento [3:29]
7. La Vie antérieure [4:45]
8. Phidylé [5:09]
9. Extase [3:20]
10. Elégie [3:19]
11. Le Manoir de Rosemonde [2:27]
12. Chanson triste [3:23]

CD 2 [37:47]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1921)
La Bonne Chanson, Op. 61:
1. No. 1 Une sainte en son aureole [2:28]
2. No. 2 Puisque l’aube grandit [2:00]
3. No. 3 La lune blanche luit dans les bois [2:31]
4. No. 4 J’allais par des chemins perfides [2:01]
5. No. 5 J’ai presque peur, en vérité [2:11]
6. No. 6 Avant que tu t’en ailles [2:46]
7. No. 7 Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d’été [2:29]
8. No. 8 N’est-ce pas? [2:37]
9. No. 9 L’hiver a cessé [2:44]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918)
Trois ballades de François Villon
10. I Ballade de Villon à s’amye [3:42]
11. II Ballade que Villon fait à la requeste de sa mére pour prier Nostre Dame [3:34]
12. III Ballade des femmes de Paris [1:56]
Maurice RAVEL (1875 – 1937)
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
13. I Chanson romanesque [2:04]
14. II Chanson épique [2:35]
15. III Chanson à boire [1:48]

 




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