Stéphanie d'Oustrac / Thibaut Roussel / Tanguy de Williencourt

Une Soirée Chez Berlioz

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Berlioz is not the first name that comes to mind when the topic of historical performance is mentioned, but here is a delightful group of short pieces presented as "une soirée chez Berlioz" and played on instruments of his time. Mostly they are songs, accompanied on piano or, more unusually guitar, and the fascinating thing is that the guitar was Berlioz's own. He even signed it when he donated it to the Conservatoire in Paris. The album is worth hearing just for the quiet, measured voice of the guitar alone, in the hands of Thibaut Roussel. The piano is a Pleyel instrument of 1842, both gentle and agile. The entire album never rises above true chamber dynamics, and pianist Tanguy de Williencourt adjusts his sound to this level as well. (Berlioz specialist and mezzo-soprano Stéphanie d'Oustrac if anything dominates her accompanists a bit too much.) The album is not just a vaguely conceptual soirée but a set of pieces that Berlioz himself, for personal or professional reasons, might have liked (the inclusion of Liszt's little piano piece L'idée fixe is especially interesting here), and played for guests. The program includes pieces by Berlioz and Liszt, but also by French composers from the generation before Berlioz: perhaps semi-popular musicians who are all but unknown today, like Nicolas Dalayrac, Jean-Antoine Meissonnier, and the mysterious single-named Lélu. Anyone with an interest in Berlioz or French music of the first half of the 19th century more generally will find these a must. There is also a great little song by the 16-year-old Berlioz, for voice and guitar. Harmonia Mundi engineers rose to a difficult task here, and listeners who immerse themselves in the quiet will find an entrancing experience.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:00 Amazon
2 02:01 Amazon
3 02:21 Amazon
4 03:41 Amazon
Six Mélodies nocturnes originales
5 01:37 Amazon
Gulnare ou L'escave persanne
6 02:43 Amazon
Philippe et Georgette
7 02:00 Amazon
L' Opéra comique
8 03:12 Amazon
9 05:50 Amazon
Fleurs des Landes, Op. 13, H. 124
10 03:31 Amazon
Six Mélodies nocturnes originales
11 02:49 Amazon
12 02:43 Amazon
L' Opéra comique
13 01:35 Amazon
14 01:56 Amazon
15 04:16 Amazon
Neuf mélodies irlandaises, Op. 2, H. 38
16 04:03 Amazon
17 02:45 Amazon
18 02:26 Amazon
Nina ou La Folle par amour
19 02:20 Amazon
20 09:33 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick