Sunday, 9 July 2017

Véronique Gens: Visions

There is music one listens to because of the music itself. There is music one listens to because of the performers. Ideal listening is great music with great performers; which happens, sometimes. I still enjoy listening to Arkadi Volodos playing Brahms' solo piano music, even though I am not a lover of Brahms' solo piano music. Seeing that Véronique Gens had a new CD recording (Visions), I hastily bought it, being a great fan of Ms Gens. I also like French song (mélodies) and noted the twelve French tracks.

I forgot, however, that I do not really like 19th century opera (except Wagner, whose works are not really “operas” as such). I especially do not like 19th century French opera, and that is what Véronique Gens offered me, to my consternation. Opera arias from Alfred Bruneau, Louis Niedermeyer, Félicien David, Henry Février, Fromental Halévy and a few other even better known names.

Gritting my teeth, I have now listened to the CD with increasing pleasure. Much of the music is of a muzak nature, and none of it particularly profound or earth-shaking. But Véronique Gens is a truly superb singer in this repertoire (the Arkadi Volodos of French song). The Munich Radio Orchestra plays really well, even though almost all the music must have been sight-read, and Hervé Niquet gives Ms Gens the best backing she could ever desire. The recording from Alpha-Classics is excellent; why is it that these small labels consistently create exceptional recordings of interesting repertoire, whilst the Warner Music / Universal / Sony Classical labels either churn out 12th re-issues of old recordings, or new recordings by half-naked young females (or unshaven young males)? Anyway, with each listening to this CD, I have gone from despondent to highly positive. 55 minutes of enjoyable listening; well done, Véronique Gens, Fromental Halévy, et al.

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