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Franck - Melodies
Ann de Renais – soprano Guy Penson – piano

Musique en Wallonie – MW 0634

1 CD – 62 minutes

Recorded January 2006


Le marriage des roses; Roses et papillons; Ninon; Nocturne; Lied; Aimer; Robin Gray; Les cloches du soir; le sylphe; Passez, passez toujours; Le vase brise; La procession; L'emir de Bengador; S'il est un charmant gazon; Souvenance; L'ange et l'enfant


To quote the booklet supplied with the CD, “Franck did not always achieve the ideal fusion of words and music”. I would qualify this by saying that I found it not so much a case of the music failing to suit the words, as that he often fails to achieve the magical combination of voice and piano that is essential to the art of song. His music for the piano is sensitive, responsive and imaginative, but he tends to fall back on a rather plain vocal line. Notwithstanding, there are some very pleasant surprises within this selection, and it should perhaps be regarded as a CD to dip in to rather than play right through.


A wide range of well known poets are included in the collection, chosen perhaps more for their reputation than the direct appeal that their words may have had for the composer.


However, Victor Hugo seems to be an exception, and the songs sung to his texts are amongst the best in this collection. S'il est un charmant gazon is full of charm and the very solemn Passez, passez toujours has a direct authority in its portent of the passing years.


Others that I would recommend are Souvenance filled with sweet regret, the outwardly simplistic L'ange et l'enfant and the hauntingly beautiful Les cloche du soir .


Unusually, no biographical details of the performers are given in the leaflet. They are both Belgians. Ann de Renais was a member of the Swingle Singers for many years and Guy Penson is well known as a harpsichordist with various baroque ensembles.


Serena Fenwick