Ombres: Women Composers of La Belle Époque / Grimaldi, Bushakevitz
Devised by Laetitia Grimaldi and Ammiel Bushakevitz, Ombres brings together songs by nine women composers whose lives span the years 1821–1964. Many of the songs were written during the so-called Belle Époque, at a time when women might be accepted as performers – especially in domestic settings – but struggled to be recognised as composers. And even in the cases when their music was heard – for instance in the fashionable salons of Paris – or published, it soon fell into oblivion. Several of the songs included here were discovered by Grimaldi and Bushakevitz in libraries and archives, having gone out of print long ago. With Ombres, the performers liberate the nine composers from their shadowy existence, and demonstrate the wide range of their music, from Cécile Chaminade’s bustling Villanelle to Pauline Viardot’s nocturnal Les étoiles or the ghostly Les lavandières by Augusta Holmès, about the Midnight Washerwomen from Celtic mythology.
What is beyond question is that some of the songs by the two most well-known of these composers, Pauline Viardot and Cécile Chaminade, are quite wonderful. Viardot wrote some real gems. The melody of “Les ombres de minuit” (The shadows of midnight) is haunting, the atmosphere of “Les deux roses” (The two roses) truly perfumed, the refrain of “Haï luli” folk-like and unforgettable, and the unquestionable beauty of “Les étoiles” (The stars) a gift to savor.
Chaminade's three songs, all characteristically La Belle Époque, include a lovely “Villanelle” which shines best when sung in a voice filled with youth and sunlight. “L’anneau d’argent” (The silver ring) is meant to elicit smiles, and “Nice-la-belle” (Beautiful Nice) is the French equivalent of the romance of the New York skyline as viewed from the Staten Island Ferry in a black-and-white movie from the ’30s or ’40s.
Be sure to listen to de Polignac’s hauntingly beautiful, far from ordinary “Jardin du roi” (The king’s garden). There are plenty of surprise turns in her songs to engage on multiple levels. And enjoy how Holmès, the daughter of an Irish major who was educated at Versailles, set her own poetry.
-- San Francisco Classical Voice (Jason Victor Serinus)
Release Date: January 07, 2022
Catalog Number: BIS-2546
Number of Discs: 1
Period: Late Romantic
Composer: Marguerite Beclard d'Harcourt, Mel Bonis, Cecile Chaminade, Helene-Frederique de Faye-Jozin, Gabrielle Ferrari, Juliette Folville, Rosemonde Gerard, Augusta Holmes, Pauline Viardot, Armande de Polignac
Performer: Ammiel Bushakevitz, Laetitia Grimaldi