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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing music from a young composer, 14 Nov 2000
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Dr. R. G. Bullock "Gavin Bullock" (Winchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boulanger: Vocal and Choral Works (Audio CD)
Lili Boulanger (b.1893) died a few months before her 25th birthday. She had been afflicted by a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, possibly Crohn's disease, since childhood. Her father was a composer and teacher and Fauré was a close family friend, so she was bought up in an environment where music was a daily occurrence. She was a charismatic young woman who charmed all who came into contact with her. Fiercely intelligent and self-disciplined, she won the prestigious Prix de Rome (1913) only four years after starting formal composition lessons at the Conservatoire in Paris. The winning composition was Faust et Hélène. The other works on this disc were composed between 1916 and 1918. Lili's last words to her close ones were "I offer to God my sufferings so that they may shower down on you as joys."
Psaume 24 (1916) is a very short but stirring setting, with brass fanfares. Faust et Hélène last 30 minutes. She was closeted in the Palais de Compiègne for a month to compose this - as well as a fugue for voices, as the rules of the Prix de Rome dictated. She completed the piano short score by herself but her illness relapsed and Lili was allowed to dictate the orchestration. Faust courts Helen of Troy with the doom-laden interjections of Mephisto. The ghosts of all those soldiers who died for Helen appear and finally take her away. The setting is lyrical and sinister by turns.
D'un soir triste (1918) is orchestral. Elegiac but also sinister, with a heavy tread-like pulse, it builds to two climaxes, the second ending with the tam-tam. The music subsides into a wistful episode in which the violin, cello and celesta feature prominently. The slow tread returns and after a final climax the music ends with a sense that the worst is over.
D'un matin de printemps (1918) is a delightful and cheerful piece and is a companion to the one above.
Psaume 130 (Du fond de l'abīme - Out of the depths of the abyss)(1917) is an extended setting lasting about 25 minutes and is arguably her greatest work. As might be expected, the music is full of despair and falls into four sections. The orchestration, with organ, ranges from crushing climax to delicate chamber textures. After about 18 minutes there is a lovely episode with a soprano and tenor solist where all is sweetness and light but the music darkens and builds to a final climax followed by another lyrical episode - yet the ending does not bring relief. As Gerald Larner writes in his excellent notes, "...the work ends without the unambiguous consolation Lili was too honest to provide." An astounding work for a 22 year old to write. One can only feel a certain sense of grief that such a gifted woman should die so young.
The CBSO and chorus under Yan Pascal provide fine performances and the recording by Chandos is excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars extraordinarily brilliant, 1 Jan 2012
This review is from: Boulanger: Vocal and Choral Works (Audio CD)
Hard to believe someone that died so young produced such wonderful music.
This disc does justice to an exceptional talent.
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Boulanger: Vocal and Choral Works
Boulanger: Vocal and Choral Works by Lili Boulanger (Audio CD - 1999)
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