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Songs of Debussy and Mozart

Juliane Banse soprano András Schiff piano

Claude Debussy
Beau soir
Clair de lune
from Fêtes galantes, 1er livre: En sourdine
Clair de lune
Ariettes oubliées
C'est l'extase langoureuse
Il pleure dans mon cœur
L'ombre des arbres
Chevaux de bois

W. A. Mozart
Dans un bois solitaire
Oiseaux, si tous les ans
Der Zauberer
Das Veilchen
Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge
Als Luise die Briefe ihres untreuen Liebhabers verbrannte

ECM New Series 1772 – 461899-2

Recorded 2001– 60 mins



ECM's leaflet that accompanies this disc goes to some length to explain the reasons behind the combination of these two composers and their respective approaches to the “laws” of musical form. It's certainly a thoughtful selection of works, starting with Debussy's Beau soir (Beautiful evening) and ending with Mozart's Abendempfindung (Thoughts at eventide) thus enticing the listener to go back to the beginning and make the com paris on again. I also like the juxtaposition of Debussy's Clair de lune and Pierrot which quotes the tune of the traditional children's song Au clair de la lune – and it is interesting to have the composer's revised version of Clair de lune a little later on the disc.


Approximately two thirds of the time is devoted to Debussy and the most important of his songs from the 1880s (mostly settings of the poems by Paul Verlaine) including the sets Ariettes oubliées and Fêtes galantes – 1er livre . Mozart gets a slimmer time allocation, but nonetheless he is represented by eight songs – a substantial proportion of his output – Grove's Dictionary of Music credits him with only thirty-five songs for solo voice and piano. The Mozart selections begin with two songs set to French poems written in 1778, a year in which he spent six months in Paris, and are close in subject matter to the Debussy songs. The remainder are from the period 1785/91, set to German texts by a wide range of authors, reflecting the diverse culture of Vienna .


It's a pleasure to listen to this recital. Julianne Banse has a secure and agile voice, fully controlled to the top of the register. I was interested to see that she trained as a classical dancer before Brigitte Fassbaender took over her vocal coaching. Her singing is particularly attractive in quieter lyrical sections, and very expressive – notably she brought out the essentially Spanish character of Fantoches which is often overlooked – but I would have liked to have been able to distinguish a few more words. It was the Mozart pieces that she really brought to life, singing with complete confidence and commitment.


András Schiff's collaboration was a joy throughout, a work of art in itself completely steeped in the character of each piece whilst fully supportive of the singer.


Serena Fenwick


Note: The texts and translations are provided by ECM on their website for on-line listening but the translations are not given in parallel. SF has helpfully realigned them for Musical Pointers' English speaking readers. PGW