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 Veronique Gens – soprano / Jeff Cohen – piano

Berlioz -  Les nuits d'été Op. 7
Debussy - 
Fêtes galantes Book I; Nuit d'étoiles; Fleur des blés
La cigale et la fourmi;  Le corbeau et le renard  both from '6 fables de Lafontaine'


BBC Lunchtime Concert Series at Wigmore Hall

Monday 13 October 2008


Even by the high standards of the Wigmore Hall this recital was exceptional.  Members of the audience had come hot foot from the lunch hour bustle of the West End streets yet within the opening bars were transported to the serenity of the woodland landscape described in Villanelle.  


Jeff Cohen’s playing of the long introduction to La spectre de la rose deepened the mood of calm, and Veronique Gens produced the lightness of tone to conjure up the image of a spirit dancing gently and happily each night at the bedside. 


So the concert progressed through the darkening emotions of Berlioz’s Nuits d’ete to the glimpse of optimism offered in his closing phrases “Ou voulez-vous aller?”


Next on the menu were 5 Debussy songs.  After the cheerful banter of his marionettes we were led once again to the realms of the night with Clair de lune and Nuit d’etoiles, which is surely one of the most beautiful of Debussy’s settings – heard today in translucent beauty.    


A brisk change of voice tone was assumed for the brisk happiness of the autumn wheatfields, which was a perfect stepping stone to Offenbach’s interpretation of a couple of La Fontaine’s fables.  Veronique Gens paused for a few seconds before each song, holding her hands to the side of her head, obviously forming the characters she was about to assume, and there they followed, as real as though they had stepped out onto the platform in front of us: the foolish and improvident grasshopper, the hard working and acerbic ant, the easily flattered crow and the wily fox.


The concert was broadcast live on Radio 3.  It will be repeated at 2pm on Saturday 18 October  and is available to listen again for a further week at  www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00dw7vb - enjoy!


Serena Fenwick


See review of Veronique Gens in Castor & Pollux