1. Britten: Les Illuminations - Debussy: Ariettes oubliées / Asplund, LuKaS

Britten: Les Illuminations - Debussy: Ariettes oubliées / Asplund, LuKaS (Lunds Kammarsolister)

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Bringing together Benjamin Britten’s Les Illiuminations and Claude Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées is like peeking behind the door to one of the most mythical bedrooms in...

Bringing together Benjamin Britten’s Les Illiuminations and Claude Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées is like peeking behind the door to one of the most mythical bedrooms in literary history. There sit the poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, working frantically away. They write on loose sheets of paper, promissory notes and receipts. The ink drips, the papers are full of wine stains and food scraps. They are unwashed and unshaven. They drink, quarrel and sleep with each other. Verlaine writes texts that will be included in the collection of poems Romances sans paroles, taken by Debussy as a starting point for Ariettes Oubliées. The poems that Rimbaud is working on will much later be published as Les Illuminations.

REVIEW:

Benjamin Britten was 26 years old when he wrote Les illuminations. He had been captivated by Arthur Rimbaud's prose poems and perhaps also by Rimbaud's relationship with Paul Verlaine. On record, it is common to bring the work together with Britten's other orchestral song cycles, such as the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, Quatre chansons françaises, and Nocturne. Here, a different concept has been chosen instead. Instead of more Britten, we get a song cycle by the then 25-year-old Claude Debussy. He often returned to Verlaine's poetry, and in Ariettes oubliées (Forgotten Little Songs) he has set to music six poems from Verlaine's Romances sans paroles ("Songs without words"). It may seem like a strange title for a collection of poems, but clearly indicates Verlaine's desire to bring poetry closer to music; after all, Mendelssohn called his piano pieces Lieder ohne Worte. Verlaine and Rimbaud wrote their poems in 1871, moreover in the same room.

Debussy's song cycle was written for voice and piano but has been arranged here for the same ensemble as Britten's Les illuminations, i.e. string orchestra. For the delicious arrangement, Tobias Broström claims credit. As soloist we hear the soprano Sofie Asplund and the conductorless orchestra is LuKaS (pronounced Lunds Kammarsolister). Asplund could hardly have wished for a better debut album than this intelligently composed album with delicious music. As an "encore" we also get Debussy's familiar "Clair de lune" (inspired by a poem by Verlaine) in a delicate orchestral arrangement by Daniel Fjellström. The text booklet contains, thankfully, all the poems in French and in translations into English and Swedish.

-- Kulturdelen

When our latest opera soprano star Sofie Asplund makes her album debut, it’s with this song cycle to lyrics by Paul Verlaine, linked with Benjamin Britten’s song cycle “Les illuminations” to lyrics by Arthur Rimbaud. A link that makes the album an almost forbiddingly hot encounter between the two poets and their famous love affair that went so far that one shot the other.

This theatrical dimension is a perfect starting point for Asplund’s dramatic intelligence and mercurial sensibility, capturing the beauty of the cruelest of things, the gasping pulse of the last breath. Which is wonderfully supported here by the Lund Chamber Soloists (LuKas). Asplund throws herself boldly into “this wild performance” as one of the songs puts it. And turns the album into an uncivilised nocturnal party, immersed in whirlpools and in whipping foam.

-- Dagens Nyheter (Martin Nyström)



Product Description:


  • Release Date: November 19, 2021


  • UPC: 822359002647


  • Catalog Number: SCD1176


  • Label: Swedish Society


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: 20th Century


  • Composer: Benjamin Britten, Claude Debussy


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Lunds Kammarsolister


  • Performer: Sofie Asplund



Works:


  1. Les illuminations, Op. 18

    Composer: Benjamin Britten

    Ensemble: LuKaS

    Performer: Sofie Asplund (Soprano)


  2. Ariettes oubliées (arr. for voice & ensemble)

    Composer: Claude Debussy

    Ensemble: LuKaS

    Performer: Sofie Asplund (Soprano)


  3. Suite bergamasque: III. Claire de lune (arr. for ensemble)

    Composer: Claude Debussy

    Ensemble: LuKaS