Les Chemins de l'Amour FC083


Les Chemins de l'Amour FC083

Irene Maessen-soprano
Eleonore Pameijer-flute
Rudolf Jansen-piano

1. Camille Saint-Saëns Viens, une flûte invisible 3'04
Claude Debussy Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé
2. Soupir 2'30
3. Placet futile 2'10
4. Eventail 2'29
5. Claude Debussy Syrinx 3'00
Maurice Ravel Shéhérazade
6. Asie 9'07
7. La flûte enchantée 2'43
8. L'Indifférent 3'41
Francis Poulenc Sonata for flute and piano
9. Allegro malinconico 4'15
10. Cantilena: Assez lent 3'24
11. Presto giocoso 3'38
12. Erik Satie Gnossienne nr. 3 2'55
13. Erik Satie La Diva de l'Empire 2'47
14. André Caplet Viens, une flûte invisible 2'58
15. André Caplet Écoute, mon coeur ... 3'30
Albert Roussel Joueurs de flûte
16. Pan 2'55
17. Tityre 1'10
18. Krishna 3'09
19. M. de la Péjaudie 1'48
Albert Roussel Deux Poèmes de Ronsard
20. Rossignol, mon mignon … 4'17
21. Ciel, aer et vens … 3'27
22. Francis Poulenc Les Chemins de l'Amour 3'26

The Impressionist movement in music, led by the French composer Claude Debussy, is often considered to mark the beginning of the modern period in musical history. Influenced by the paintings of the French impressionists and by the poetry of Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé, musical impressionism emphasized tonal colour and mood rather than formal structures. Impressionist composers started to use new chord combinations, whole-tone chords, chromaticism, and exotic rhythms and scales. In vocal music, composers disposed of virtuoso arias and let vocal styles, though still lyrical, incline towards the declamatory. Numerous composers added the most popular of French instruments, the flute, to their songs. They were inspired by the pastoral and charming character of the instrument, a perfect medium for their musical ideas.

French impressionism continued to develop in the works of Maurice Ravel, André Caplet and Albert Roussel. By the beginning of World War I in 1914, the over-refinement and technical limitations of musical impressionism provoked adverse criticism from composers and critics alike. A new group of anti-romantic French composers, Les Six (of which Francis Poulenc was a member), influenced by Erik Satie, satirized and rebelled against these excesses. Eventually, impressionism, which had been conceived by Debussy as a revolt against romanticism, came to be regarded as the final phase of romantic music.

This CD with compositions for soprano, flute and piano, reflects this turbulent musical period. It starts with a song by Camille Saint-Saëns, written in a romantic style, on a short poem by Victor Hugo, Viens! une flûte invisible soupire. The words are simple: a young man declares his love while “a flute unseen sighs in the orchards”. Camille Saint-Saëns set the poem to music on its publication in 1856.

In 1900, 22-year-old André Caplet clearly refers to Saint-Saëns' setting of the same poem. From the very first measure, Caplet's flowing music has an impressionistic atmosphere. The flute plays a prominent role, initially as a shepherd's instrument, later representing birdcall. In 1924, Caplet wrote Écoute, mon Coeur… for voice and flute on a poem by Tagore. The flute warbles away gaily, representing a running stream, the rustling of leaves, the buzzing of bees. The vocal line, meanwhile, is calm and serene.

In the same year Albert Roussel wrote his Deux Poèmes de Ronsard, honouring the 400th anniversary of the poet Pierre de Ronsard's birth. Roussel constructs a fascinating dialogue for voice and flute, limiting the play of his counterpoint to just two melodic lines.

In the first song, the nightingale is depicted singing for his beloved. The second song, with an earnest and melancholy entreaty to the sky, air and wind ('Ciel, aer et vens'), serenades the beauty of the Vendée, a region in France, and passes on a bittersweet message of farewell.

Joueurs de flûte encompasses delightful portraits of four famous flute players. The first, 'Pan', is a hommage to this Greek God of shepherds and herds, always pictured with goat's legs and playing a Syrinx, a shepherd's flute (or Pan's Pipe), made up of seven uneven reed stems placed next to one another. In this composition, the successive tone sequence of Pan's Pipe can already be perceived in the very first bar. The irregular, almost stumbling rhythm is a direct allusion to Pan's poor goat's feet. The second work, ‘Tityre’, sings the praises of flute-playing shepherd Tityre from the poem Bucolica by Virgil. By the sound of it, this particular musical guardian of rams and ewes must have possessed a staccato quick as lightning. The third work, 'Krishna', calm and flowing with a distinct oriental flavour, is a tribute to one of the incarnations of the Hindu God Vishnu. Krishna is always portrayed with a flute. The last work, 'Monsieur de la Péjaudie', does not refer to a God or mythological figure, but to the romantic hero of La Péchéresse, which, at the time, was a popular novel by Henry de Regnier. This gentleman-flutist serenades without fail all pretty ladies he encounters.

The pieces are dedicated to four famous French flutists: Marcel Moyse, Gaston Blanquart, Louis Fleury and Philippe Gaubert.

From a very early age, Claude Debussy was inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé and it was to this poet that he returned in 1913 for what was to be his last song cycle Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé.

In 'Soupir', the voice and piano join in a meditative evocation of a symbolic garden, almost Japanese in its sharp outlines. 'Placet futile' is a rendition of hopeless, unrequited and virtually impossible love, and touches upon the flute-and-shepherd theme in its last phrases. In 'Éventail', the piano and voice flirt like glances from behind a fan, as in a duel between a bird and a hunter. 'Syrinx' for flute solo was written in 1912 for a play by French writer Gabriel Mourey, titled Psyche. The music was played from behind the stage by flutist Louis Fleury, during the death scene of the shepherd-God Pan. It is probably the most famous piece of solo music for the flute. Fleury loved it so much that he always carried it with him and frequently performed it at concerts, always from behind a curtain. The work was not published until after Fleury's death in 1926.

Maurice Ravel was fascinated by the stories of Shéhérazade (the legendary author of The Arabian Nights) and attempted to write an opera on the subject. He never completed it, but when Arthur Leclère, a writer and painter who used the very Wagnerian alias 'Tristan Klingsor' published a book of exotic poems titled Shéhérazade, Ravel immediately set three of the poems to music.

The first poem, 'Asie', is almost like a travelogue. Ravel's setting establishes a musical journey, in which the voice wanders through the oriental scenery painted by the piano. In 'La flûte enchantée', the flute plays an enchanting melody before and after the singer's nearly static chant, perhaps to show how the narrator is mesmerized. In 'L'Indifférent', the tone is entreating, languid, and wistful, as if the narrator never really expects anything to happen in the encounter with the young man.

The word 'gnossienne' describes several pieces of piano music composed by Erik Satie that did not fit into any of the existing styles of classical music like a piano prelude or a sonata. Satie, always eager to combine recalcitrance with a touch of humour, easily solved this dilemma by simply titling the pieces with a new and made up word, in this case - 'gnossienne'. Gnosis (from the Greek word for knowledge) was originally used in specifically Platonic philosophical contexts. The Gnossiennes are amongst Satie's earliest works for piano. Characteristic of these pieces is the influence of Gregorian modes and parallel chords. Occassionally, measures are not indicated and the score is littered with strange indications, such as 'Ouvrez la tête'.

For La Diva de l'Empire, Satie had the Parisian nightclub L'Empire in mind. A young lady, wearing a large, fashionable Kate Greenaway hat, briefly raises her skirts to show the gentlemen, who have come all the way from Piccadilly, London, a good time. The work could be described as an American intermezzo, an arrangement of a cafe-concert song, and could be classified among the works Satie himself described as 'rudes saloperies' (crude filth).

Francis Poulenc loved wind instruments and knew how to make the best use of their timbre. The Sonata for flute and piano was written between December 1956 and March 1957 at the Hotel Majestic in Cannes. It is light-footed, but has a melancholy undercurrent. The first movement, having the contradictory title of 'Allegro malinconico', is a masterpiece of neo-classical balance. The seductive second movement, a 'Cantilena', shows Poulenc's mastery of song and melody. In the final movement, 'Presto giocoso', Poulenc reveals his exuberant roguish side with surprising accents, syncopation and lightning-fast runs.

The CD concludes with the title song, an irresistable valse chantée, with lyrics by Jean Anouilh, called The Ways of Love or Les Chemins de l'Amour. Here, Poulenc's mischievous side is apparent once more: the work is an obvious allusion to the Parisian Cafés Chantants of the nineteenth century, where music was generally light-hearted, sometimes risqué or even bawdy, but never particularly political or confrontational.

Irene Maessen studied with Cora Canne Meijer at the Amsterdam Conservatory where she received her diploma as Performing Artist (cum laude) as well as her opera certification. She took lessons with Arleen Auger and was a prize winner of the Elly Ameling Competition, the Cristina Deutekom Competition and the International Vocalists Competition in 's-Hertogenbosch. She was also awarded the Silver Wreath of the Friends of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. As an opera singer, Irene Maessen has interpreted many roles, particularly in several Mozart operas. She was connected to the opera houses of Innsbruck and Salzburg and has sung guest roles with the Dutch National Touring Opera.
Irene Maessen performs regularly as a soloist with orchestra and is a much sought-after chamber music singer. Her song repertoire is copious and she has a great affinity for French impressionist repertoire. She is a fervent advocate of the rediscovery of forgotten Dutch music and performs this repertoire regularly. She also frequently includes contemporary music in her concert programmes. Irene Maessen has numerous radio and CD recordings to her credit.
For more information see: www.irenemaessen.nl

Eleonore Pameijer studied flute with Koos Verheul at the Amsterdam Conservatory where she received her soloist diploma with distinction. She continued her studies with Sue Ann Kahn at Bennington College (Vermont, U.S.A.), also following masterclasses with Julius Baker, Samuel Baron, Harvey Sollberger and the legendary French flutist Marcel Moyse. After returning to Europe, she studied flute with Severino Gazzeloni at the Academia Chigiana (Italy). Studying with Abbie de Quant at the Utrecht Conservatory, she received her degree in chamber music.
Performing Baroque, Classical and Romantic music, Eleonore has also inspired many contemporary composers to write compositions especially for her. More than one hundred compositions by composers on every continent have been written for her.
Besides the musicianship she brings to her performances, Pameijer is an inventive creator of projects and programs. The Leo Smit Foundation, which she helped establish in 1996, is now known throughout the world, being a valuable means of re-establishing so much that was lost during the Second World War. Her Six Continents Foundation, which she set up together with the pianist Marcel Worms, has resulted in fascinating journeys across the globe, literally and figuratively, exploring the cultural identities of the contemporary world.
For more information: www.eleonorepameijer.com

Rudolf Jansen studied piano, organ and harpsichord at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Nelly Wagenaar, his father Simon C. Jansen and Gustav Leonhardt. In 1964 he received the Prix d'Excellence for organ, and in 1966 for piano. Later he obtained a degree for Accompaniment with Felix de Nobel. In 1965 he received the Toonkunst Jubleumprijs and in 1966 he was awarded the Silver Wreath of the Friends of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Rudof Jansen has dedicated himself to song accompaniment and chamber music. Concert travels have taken him all over the world, together with reputable artists such as Elly Ameling, Robert Holl, Han de Vries, Andreas Schmidt, Udo Reinemann and Jean-Pierre Rampal.
Rudolf Jansen frequently teaches masterclasses for song duos in Holland, Austria, Germany, Italy, the USA, Canada and Japan. In November 1996 he was invited by the Juilliard School of Music in New York City to give a masterclass.
He has made numerous records and CDs for a.o. Philips, DGG, EMI, CBS and Erato, two of which were awarded an Edison.
Rudolf Jansen is a teacher at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and also holds a special teaching post at the Hochschule für Musik in Neurenberg/Augsburg.

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