Saturday, October 09, 2010

L'invitation au voyage faceoff: Duparc vs. Chabrier

The year is 1870.

Construction on a bridge linking Manhattan to Brooklyn has just commenced. Rome is announced as the capital of a newly unified Italy. Louis Riel flees a failed Red River Rebellion in Saskatchewan. The Third Republic begins in France with the expulsion of Napoleon III.

Two French composers, each of whom will be lauded as a great composer of French art song, set a poem by the newly emerging symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire.

A setting by the 22-year-old "neurasthenic" Henri Duparc will be one of only a handful of songs, but one that ensures his reputation, to be performed by legions of young singers and pianists for the next 140 years. This recording features bass-baritone Jose van Dam with pianist Maciej Pikulski:

Emmanuel Chabrier, nearly 30, perhaps drew much of his inspiration from the Impressionist painters whom he spent time with, namely Claude Monet and Édouard Manet. Unlike Duparc, Chabrier chose to set the entire Baudelaire text, and added bassoon for further color. This performance features soprano Felicity Lott, bassoonist Ursula Levaux, and pianist Graham Johnson.

Which setting do you prefer? Why?

1 comment:

  1. Duparc is the winner in my book, maybe because it was about the first art song I ever heard as a freshman in college. I like the roiling emotion in the Duparc. The Chabrier seemed a bit sing- songy to me.