The music in the four ‘symphonic poems for voice’ by Louis Vierne is really quite unusual. At first, the listener might think the music is austere, a little off putting and lacks melodiousness. And yet, after the second listen, Vierne’s music begins to exude a particular and heady perfume. One finishes up being quite captivated, almost in spite of oneself. It has to be said that the very personal interpretation of Steve Davislim helps these scores to come to life. The tenor evinces great bravura, never sacrificing his French diction which, in the context of this music, is almost impossible. This new recording is that much more significant because there are no other versions.
The most beautiful part of the recording, however, is Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer. One doesn’t usually hear this in the version for tenor voice. The reference recordings—until now—were Waltraud Meier for mezzos... and François Le Roux for baritones... But Steve Davislim has enriched the debate in a most unexpected fashion. Here also the singer convinces though the vigour of his tone and the freshness of his interpretation, in music that too many performers give in a contained manner that lacks spontaneity. The Queensland Orchestra, conducted by the young Guillaume Tourniaire, is remarkable. One notes in particular the perfectly judged contributions of the winds and the percussion. Obviously French music is taken very seriously in the Antipodes.