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Mademoiselle: Première Audience – Unknown Music Of Nadia Boulanger

Mademoiselle: Première Audience – Unknown Music Of Nadia Boulanger

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Delos has the tremendous honor of issuing the first-ever album devoted to the wonderful compositions of Nadia Boulanger: truly a release of great historical importance. None dispute that Boulanger was by far the twentieth century’s most influential composition teacher. Yet “Mademoiselle,” as she has long been known in the music world, dismissed her own works as “useless,” with the result that they are almost completely unknown to the musical public today. But not anymore. Music lovers everywhere can now hear Boulanger’s complete works, published and unpublished (including 13 world premieres), in the genres of the art song, solo piano, cello and piano, and organ, as performed by an all-star array of musicians. Mademoiselle’s music, with its beauty and originality, will amaze listeners everywhere.


Absolutely nothing about this record denotes one of the most important classical records of this or any year -- not the venerable but small American label Delos or the French, Israeli, and American musicians involved.

But what you've got here is historic and very great indeed: the first recording of music by one of the most important figures in all of 20th century music but one whose own music has been kept under virtual lock and key since her death in 1979 at the age of 92.

Nadia Boulanger's own compositional life occupied only a small part of her very long life: from 1901 to 1922. She didn't think her own music was worth much. You will differ completely after hearing these two discs. Listen to these songs, piano pieces and works for cello and piano and you'll, in fact, be dumbfounded that it took so long for this music to have its world premiere on record.

– Buffalo News (Jeff Simon)

The performances here range from good to considerably better. Nicole Cabell’s singing of just over half the songs is exquisite: delicately shaded, tonally lovely, and sensitive to the texts. Neither of the two male singers has a voice with the distinctiveness of hers, but both are fine singers and more than do justice to the songs. Tenor Alek Shrader really understands the French style. The usual range of subjects—love, grief, nature, and religion—are all covered in Boulanger’s melodies. Some songs are surprisingly passionate from a composer whom history has painted as a reserved and controlled personality.

The instrumental works, all miniatures, are skillfully crafted (as one would expect from a life-long pedagogue), but also display a spark of ingenuity and inspiration. The third of the three pieces for cello and piano, Vite et nerveusement rythmé, is a vivid depiction of nervous energy, forming a strong contrast to the first piece, which is longingly romantic. There is throughout the disc a great deal of variety of mood and color, which helps to maintain interest. Pianist Lucy Mauro does yeoman’s work as both soloist and as collaborative pianist, though without demonstrating a really strong musical personality. The cellist and organist are quite good as well, and the well-balanced and natural recorded sound is also a plus. Finally, so are Delos’s extensive and informative notes. Everything about this disc combines to make an enthusiastic recommendation easy.

-- Fanfare

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    • UPC/Barcode: 013491349626
    • Item Number: DE 3496