Three French composers writing love songs en français (how else?) but there the similarities end. This amazingly varied and demanding program (for singer and accompanist alike) promises to be a thrilling way to get to know the most talked about Australian voice in years.
Poulenc’s ravishing settings of poems by sassy novelist Louise de Vilmorin date from 1939 and translate as “Married for Laughs”, but some three years earlier, newly-wed (but definitely not for laughs) Messiaen presented his bride with a rather different set of songs to a surrealist text of his own. Yes, some are sublimely tender and personal, but husband and wife are also Christ and Church, or armed warriors battling Sin, and one song is a hair-raising musical depiction of Hell. It’s a momentous early work written for a powerful dramatic soprano (the piano part later was expanded for huge orchestra) that contains all the future elements of his unique style and looks forward to the famous Quartet for the End of Time.
Debussy’s voluptuous Ariettes oubliées from 1887, also an early but seminal work, was written for the soprano with whom he was having a torrid extra-marital affair. The music, still with one foot in the Wagnerian camp, manages to match or outdo the overt sexuality of Paul Verlaine’s lyrics. Siobhan closes with that most sophisticated of ‘light’ waltzes, Poulenc’s Paths of Love, a favourite encore of the late Jessye Norman.
Poulenc: Fiançailles pour rire Messiaen: Poèmes pour Mi Debussy: Ariettes oubliées Poulenc: Les chemins de l'amour