Marie-Laure Garnier’s attractive Oxford journey via some late Romantic French repertoire – Seen and Heard Worldwide

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Oxford Lieder Competition 2022 [3] – Fauré, Chausson, Charlotte Sohy: Marie-Laure Garnier (soprano), Angharad Rowlands (mezzo-soprano), Hanson Quartet, Célia Oneto Bensaid, Joseph Cavalli-Value (pianists). Holywell Music Room, Oxford, 19.10.2022. (CR)

Debussy – En sourdine; Fantouches; Clair de lune
Richard Strauss – Das Rosenband, Op.36 No.1
Grieg – Gruss; Zur Rosenzeit; Ein Traum
Fauré – La bonne Chanson, Op.61
Chausson – Chanson perpétuelle, Op.37
Charlotte Sohy – Trois Chants Nostalgiques
Chausson – Poème de l’amour et de la mer, Op.19

On this recital Marie-Laure Garnier took the viewers on an attractive journey via some late Romantic French repertoire within the firm of Célia Oneto Bensaid and the Hanson Quartet. It was unlucky that, on the small stage of the Holywell Music Room, Garnier was somewhat hemmed in between the tip of the piano’s entrance aspect, and the string quartet in entrance in order that, not solely was she bodily submerged, however sonic stability amongst all of the performers was additionally usually not even.

Regardless of that, within the 9 songs of Fauré’s cycle La bonne Chanson, Garnier achieved an eloquent, lyrical reserve, generally overcome by the strings (however, oddly, not by the piano which additionally appeared recessed) though within the case of ‘Puise l’aube grandit’ it was their comfortable cushion of sound that was considerably throttled by extra strongly projected singing and fearsomely rippling piano.  Paradoxically, maybe, a tremendous equilibrium was attained within the extra passionate outpouring (and a uncommon distinction in texture on this somewhat monochrome cycle) in direction of the tip of ‘Avant que tu ne t’en ailles’, the place the instrumental harmonies moved extra fortunately and squarely alongside the voice.

The function of the piano quintet in Charlotte Sohy’s not often heard, however rewarding, Trois Chants Nostalgiques is extra intrinsic to those settings and musically richer than within the Fauré. Actually, they nearly sound like actions for piano quintet with accompanying soprano, although that will partly have been the difficulty of stability once more, seeming to render Garnier’s contribution as provisional, regardless of the terser vocal traces and her grittier articulation consequently. Definitely, the strings have been prompted to darker, heavier colors on this music that had one thing of the extra angular, demonstrative harmonic qualities of Lili Boulanger or Frank Martin for instance than forbears reminiscent of Debussy or Fauré.

The 2 gadgets by Chausson (each initially written with full orchestral accompaniment) are nearly within the nature of self-contained operatic scenes. However even in these smaller scale chamber variations (that of the Chanson presumably by Chausson, the one of many Poème uncredited), Garnier was at her finest in sustaining lengthy vocal traces which have been dramatically charged and soared throughout the longer spans of those scores. Her tone was equally targeted and commanding each in tense, feverish passages, in addition to quiet, reflective ones, not least within the concluding part along with her completely rapt, vibrato-less diction. The strings additionally secured a convincing sense of the music’s ebb and movement with pressure constructing after which discharged with the easefulness of respiration.

Within the opening part of the recital by this night’s chosen pair of rising artists, Angharad Rowlands and Joseph Cavalli-Value set the scene for the French repertoire to come back with animated performances of three Debussy songs. That urgency, and her vibrant, wiry vocal manufacturing carried over into the items by Richard Strauss and Grieg, the place the German phrases appeared to swimsuit higher the strong projection of her singing. Cavalli-Value gave energetic accounts of the accompaniments, telling the story and depicting graphic particulars with eager consideration.

Curtis Rogers