Various Artists

Mademoiselle - Première Audience: Unknown Music of Boulanger

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The "première audience" for these works by the influential French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger is you: half the works have never been recorded before, and the rest are seldom heard indeed. The neglect of these works is largely down to Boulanger herself, who stopped composing in 1922 and referred people to the works of her sister Lili, whom she considered the better composer. Those who differed included Fauré, who suggested she might want to keep at it. Fauré is indeed the model for a lot of the songs, which have the flavor of a youthful composer experimenting by adding dashes of Impressionism and chromaticism. The most modern works in this vein are the four organ pieces at the end, but the songs are worth hearing as well, with care and a personal perspective shown in the selection of texts. Sample Soir d'hiver (Winter Evening), with a text by Boulanger herself, depicting the mother of a baby whose father has taken off. The group of performers led by soprano Nicole Cabell is very strong and has the flavor of commitment to the project that is essential in this kind of recording. This album received a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Compendium, and it's recommended for anyone interested in Boulanger and her fascinating ability to tease out what young composers cared about; it would seem from the selections here that she had some deeper currents of her own.

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