Felicity Lott

Mélodies sur des poèmes de Charles Baudelaire

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Because the poems of Charles Baudelaire are not simple lyrics that readily invite musical adaptation, they have inspired relatively few vocal settings. Highly musical in their own right, with intricate relationships between sound and sense, these poems have challenged composers to treat them with sensitivity to their linguistic subtleties. Debussy's group of five songs are the most accomplished works here, showing a Wagnerian influence in a few telltale passages, but leaning toward the advanced style of Ariettes oubliées, which came soon afterwards. Duparc's L'invitation au voyage and Chabrier's setting of the same poem are interesting to compare, though Duparc's has achieved greater fame and is considered by many the best example of the French mélodie form. Déodat de Séverac's Les Hiboux and Henri Sauguet's Le Chat work well, perhaps because these poems are direct in their imagery and more amenable to tone painting. Pierre Capdevielle's Je n'ai pas oublié is rather like Poulenc, both in deceptive simplicity and harmonic sophistication. Felicity Lott's fluent delivery guarantees that the poems come across with coherence and clarity, even in the most elaborate and overwrought passages. Graham Johnson, Lott's longtime partner, provides a balanced and finely shaped accompaniment, as informed by the poetry as is the singer's performance.

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