About the Repertoire - 2021 Concert Season

This program of French and German vocal music is imbued with vivid nature imagery as well as themes of romance and mystery. For his third and final song-drama ‘Minnespiel’, Robert Schumann chose some of the finest poetry by his great contemporary, Friedrich Rückert, in which the loose romantic narrative is shared between the solo voices, duets and quartets. Carl Loewe’s songs are not often performed, but his atmospheric settings of some well-known poetry are without equal. Both ‘Erlkönig’and ‘Tom der Reimer’ depict a journey on horseback by a human protagonist who falls victim to dangerously alluring figures from the spirit-world, while the ‘Gesang der Geister’ is an uplifting setting in which the soul of man is likened to water which rises to and falls from the heavens.

French musicians were similarly inspired by natural world of lakes, fields, streams, flowers and birds, as seen the bracket of vocal duets by a distinguished group of composers from the fin de siècle. Saint-Saëns, Gounod and Massenet are better known for their operas, Chausson and Duparc are renowned for their chansons, but all of them produced fine vocal ensembles as well. An interesting addition to this list is Jean-Baptiste Fauré, who was one of the leading operatic baritones of the day. Some of these settings also use the imagery of night as a backdrop for romance, while more explicit allusions to springtime feature in the partsong cyle by Massenet. The ‘Chansons de Bois d’Amaranthe’ is a beautifully varied set of duets, trios and quartets with a brilliant finale, ‘Chantez!’ With some familiar composers and others who are lesser known, this program continues our exploration of the rich treasure of nineteenth-century vocal music with piano.

 

Repertoire:

 

Minnespiel (Love drama) Op.101 – Robert Schumann

Song-drama for four voices and piano to poems by Friedrich Rückert

 

Vocal duets by the French romantics:

  • Pastorale – Camille Saint-Saëns

  • Sur le lac d’argent (On the silver lake) – Jean-Baptiste Fauré

  • La siesta – Charles Gounod

  • Réveil (Awakening) -  Ernest Chausson

  • Les fleurs (Flowers) – Jules Massenet

  • La fuite (The escape) – Henri Duparc

 

Idylle from ‘Pièces pittoresques’ for solo piano – Emmanuel Chabrier

 

Ballads and a quartet by Carl Loewe:

  • Gesang der Geister (Song of the spirits) Op.88

  • Erlkönig (The erl-king) Op.1 No.3

  • Tom der Reimer (Thomas the rhymer) Op.135

Chansons des Bois d’Amaranthe (Songs of the Aramanth woods) – Jules Massenet

Partsong cycle for four voices and piano to poems by Marc Legrand

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