This exquisitely performed collection shows the many sides of Caplet's vocal composition. After being demobilized from the army, where he served as an infantry sergeant, Caplet wrote several religious works including the Panis angelicus (1919) for mezzo-soprano (Hanna Schaer), woman's voices (Choeurs de Lyons), violin, cello, harp, and organ. The piece unfolds lovely scale-wise melodies and harmonic progressions like the sun rising. Le vieux coffret (The Old Casket) is a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano, describing the feelings of two lovers, their hopes and expectations for the future, and their memories, expressed through bold enharmonic progressions and emotional on-rushes. The elegant and lyrical Five French Ballads to Poems by Paul Fort were composed during the happy period after Caplet married his "little Geneviève." Nevertheless, the text concerns "the price of happiness rather than...happiness itself" (Gérard Condé). The brief song Viens! Une flûte invisible soupire ... (Behold! An invisible flute sighs...) has sweet, ancient-sounding flute arabesques as well as turbulence. The text describes "the most charming song" of the lovers. La cloche fêlée (The Cracked Bell) has a profoundly despairing quality, also shared by La mort des pauvres (The death of the poor), created shortly before the composer's death. Les prieres (The Prayers) are beautifully lyrical, impressionist settings of the "Lord's Prayer," the "Hail Mary," and the "Apostle's Creed," remarkable for their clear writing and heartfelt emotional expression. Pie Jésu, for mezzo-soprano and organ, contains archaic harmonies, chant, and obsessive chromatic figures, all to express the eternal mystery of the nature of existence. The Messe à trois voix dite des petits de Saint-Eustache-la-Forêt, for three-part women's choir, was intended to be sung in a church filled with the bright sunbeams of the month of May.
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AllMusic Review by "Blue" Gene Tyranny
|Le Vieux Coffret, songs (4) for medium/ low voice & piano|
|Ballades françaises (5) de Paul Fort, for voice & piano|
|Les Prières, for voice, harp & string quartet|