L’Invitation au Voyage (2)

L’horizon chimérique, Op.121
Violin Sonata in G
La vague et la cloche
La manoir de Rosamonde
Le galop
Allerseelen, Op.10/8
Heimlich Aufforderung, Op.27/3
Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann, Op.21/4
Morgen!, Op.27/4
Violin Sonata in A

William Dazeley (baritone)
Madeleine Mitchell (violin)
Paul Turner (piano)

0 of 5 stars

Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse

Reviewed: 28 April, 2006
Venue: St John's, Smith Square, London

The second of these “L’Invitation au Voyage” concerts, devised by Paul Turner, had as its centrepiece a further six from Duparc’s small but vital song output. William Dazeley was on hand for this selection; his rich-toned and powerful baritone well suited to the wistfulness drawn from Marc’s “Sérénade” and the anxiety of Silvestre’s “Testament”. Coppée’s “La vague et la cloche” is among the most complete expression of Duparc’s tortured world-view, with Dazeley as fully attuned to its sentiments as to the insinuating melancholy of Sully-Prudhomme’s “Soupir”. The overwrought vehemence of Bonnières’s “La manoir de Rosamonde” is perhaps one of the composer’s rare misfires, but not so Sully-Prudhomme’s “Le galop” – whose surging desperation towards likely oblivion Dazeley conveyed with telling conviction.

One of main attractions of this series is the opportunity to hear Duparc’s achievement in the context of his relative contemporaries. Even had his creativity not ceased in his mid-thirties, it is hard to imagine this painfully introspective figure ever having attained the deep serenity evinced by Fauré in his last song-cycle L’horizon chimérique (1921). This brief but subtly intense sequence to verse by Jean de la Ville de Mirmont has that refracted intensity found in its composer’s piano Barcarollesand Nocturnes from his ‘late’ period: a quality that calls for emotional restraint but not expressive reticence, something of which Dazeley was palpably aware.

The selection from Richard Strauss inhabited more diverse if less rarefied territory – whether the warm impulsiveness of “Heimlich Aufforderung” or quizzical humour of “Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann”, with the nobility of “Allerseelen” making for one of Strauss’s most affecting songs, and the seamless interplay of voice and piano in “Morgen!” one of his most perfect.

The remainder of the recital featured Madeleine Mitchell in two French violin sonatas written almost two generations apart. That by Ravel (1927) is among the most finely-worked pieces of his maturity – but formal economy need not preclude expressive impact, as it did in this account which, after a thoughtful opening movement, rather underplayed the suavity of ‘Blues’ and the effervescence of the closing ‘Perpetuum mobile’.

Mitchell seemed much more involved in sonata by César Franck (1886), not least the way she underlined the work’s formal ingenuity; the preludial first movement setting out salient ideas to be developed in the Allegro – vividly demonstrative here – and the searching rhetoric of the Recitative-Fantasia third movement, before the finale’s lyrical flights of fancy bring the piece to its ecstatic conclusion: qualities fully evident in this commanding performance.

Throughout, Turner’s precision and sensitivity again showed him as a natural exponent of this music, which gains considerably from being juxtaposed in so wide-ranging a programme.

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