Berio To Sing – Sequenza III; Cries of London; O King; Folk Songs; Beatles Songs – Michelle II; There Is No Tune; E si fussi pisci
Lucile Richardot (mezzo-soprano); Les Cris de Paris/Geoffroy Jourdain
Harmonia Mundi HMM902647 54:33 mins
At the heart of Berio’s music lies a fascination with language that goes beyond singing and words, into the metaphysics of sound and meaning. This characterful release from mezzo Lucile Richardot and Geoffroy Jourdain’s Les Cris de Paris brings together works inspired by the two elements that most shaped his approach to the voice itself: the extraordinary capabilities of his sometime wife and collaborator, mezzo Cathy Berberian, and his lifelong love of folk song.
The title ‘to sing’ comes from what little text is heard straight – un-deconstructed into cackles, whispers and tongue-trills – in Berio’s Sequenza III (1965). Richardot brings clarity to its histrionics, and a welcome grace that extends to the poignant O King (1968, post-assassination of Martin Luther King) and wonderfully contrasting cycle of 11 real and invented Folk Songs (1964).
In the latter work especially, and the Beatles song arrangement Michelle II (1965-7), charm and languor entwine with a wit that’s crisply reflected by the ensemble – and characterises the eight-singer-strong Cries of London (1974-5). The chamber choral There is no tune (1994) and E si fussi pisci (2002, for Umberto Eco shortly before Berio’s death) are brief but similarly intelligent and engaging.