Debussy, Charpentier, Hahn, Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Delius, Bordes, Poldowski

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COMPOSERS: Bordes,Charpentier,Debussy,Delius,Hahn,Poldowski,Ravel,Vaughan Williams
LABELS: Black Box
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Voices, Vol. 2
WORKS: Works by Debussy, Charpentier, Hahn, Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Delius, Bordes, Poldowski,
PERFORMER: Lisa Milne (soprano), Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano), Iain Burnside (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1073
Voices is one of the best things that has happened to voices since the invention of the airwave. And now Iain Burnside’s BBC Radio 3 programme has given birth to a series of discs which continues to celebrate the singer and the song in ways which surprise with real joy.

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This Verlaine Songbook weaves little-known settings of the poet in and out of the more familiar Debussy masterpieces such as the Ariettes oubliées and the Fêtes galantes – both of these in larger-than-life performances by Lisa Milne and Burnside himself. Their reflections and shadows, their extase langoureuse are animated with new, palpable intensity as Milne’s soprano, rhythmically rigorous yet sensuously supple, really does make us experience anew the frisson of Verlaine’s verbal imagination that stimulated Debussy’s ear and spirit.

Susan Bickley presents several of the rarities: a brittle and menacing period-piece ‘Colombine’ by Poldowski (the pseudonym of Wieniawski’s daughter, no less); Koechlin’s faux – or even vrai – naïf ‘Chanson des ingénues’; and, supremely, the ‘Colloque sentimental’ of Charles Bordes, Burnside’s unsung hero and mine, its high-lying lines numb with veiled sensuality.

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A safety warning, by the way, for Burnside’s splendid introductory notes which tell the tale of Verlaine without, er, mincing his words. Hilary Finch