Messiaen, Debussy, Golijov & Fauré

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Golijov & Fauré,Messiaen
LABELS: Nonesuch
ALBUM TITLE: Voices of light
WORKS: La chanson d’Eve; Prière exaucée; Résurrection
PERFORMER: Dawn Upshaw (soprano), Gilbert Kalish (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79812-2


This is special. Inspired by singing the role of the Angel in Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise, Dawn Upshaw has been exploring music with a similar luminescence. The resulting Voices of Light is typically stimulating, with the relationships between the songs making this a genuine recital, to be experienced complete. Five songs from Messiaen’s three substantial song cycles – Harawi, Poèmes pour Mi, Chants de terre et de ciel – provide the framework. On first hearing, ‘Le collier’ from the Poèmes seems a curious, though undoubtedly beautiful, choice of opening. Nevertheless, there are clear poetic links with the Chansons de Bilitis, in which Upshaw confirms her fine pedigree in Debussy, supported by the sensitive touch of Gilbert Kalish. Written in 1999 for Upshaw and Kalish, Golijov’s Lúa descolorida holds its head up high in exalted company, and again there are linguistic similarities with the two songs from Messiaen’s Harawi that precede it. While Messiaen defines the recital, Fauré’s transcendent late masterpiece La chanson d’Eve lies at its heart, and here Upshaw is sublime in capturing the burning, but understated emotions. Framing the Fauré with Messiaen’s ‘Prière exaucée’ and ‘Résurrection’ is a revelation, and with wonderful sound and a substantial booklet, this recital can be heartily recommended, with the hope of more Fauré and Messiaen from this partnership.


Christopher Dingle