Songs by Marc-André Dalbavie

'This is a beguiling triptych of beautiful works from Marc-André Dalbavie.'

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Marc-André Dalbavie
WORKS: Sonnets; The Keel Row; Nous n’irons plus au bois; Do, do, l’enfant do; Sextine-Cyclus
PERFORMER: Yuriy Mynenko (countertenor), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor); Gulbenkian Orchestra/ Marc-André Dalbavie


This is a beguiling triptych of beautiful works from Marc-André Dalbavie. All three are inspired responses to material from former times, yet are unmistakably of the present. The Sonnets set texts by Louise Labé. Dalbavie has loved her 16th-century poems since his teens, but it was hearing Philippe Jaroussky sing that prompted this setting for countertenor, composed in 2008. Ukrainian Yuriy Mynenko’s voice generally matches Dalbavie’s glistening textures with an intense clarity. A pity, then, that he has a slight rasp in a couple of mid-range notes, an especially noticeable trait in the enraptured stillness of ‘Lut, compagnon de ma calamité’.

Dalbavie wrote the Trois chansons populaires for Mynenko to sing alongside the Sonnets, creating stylish settings for the three songs quoted by Debussy in his orchestral Images. They provide genial fun, even with Mynenko’s (presumed) attempt at a Scottish accent for ‘The Keel Row’ migrating across the Irish Sea and even the Atlantic. The mesmerising Sextine-Cyclus, composed in 2000, also reimagines songs from earlier centuries, and is beguilingly sung here by Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, whose recital of troubadour songs inspired the cycle in the first place. The Gulbenkian Orchestra is excellent under Dalbavie’s watchful eye, but the CD booklet’s lack of translations for the poems is disappointing.


Christopher Dingle