Turbulent Heart

01/09/2009
Robert Benson
The Classical Review (US)

Melba has two more superb SACD issues. Tenor Steve Davislim, who [sic] recordings of Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Britten and Schubert have been praised on this site, now has another fine disk. Louis Vierne (1870-1937) is best known for his music for organ, particularly the six massive symphonies for the instrument. On this Melba issue we have four vocal works reflecting the composer's tragic life and despair (nearly blind from birth, he also had many other physical problems). All of these songs are lengthy (the longest 16:49, the shortest 8:38) sensitively depicting the poems by Victor Hugo, Countess Anna di Noailles and Henri Murger. Chausson's Poem of Love and the Sea was written for tenor and orchestra and is heard here in that form. Usually it is sung by a contralto or mezzo (Kathleen Ferrier, Dame Janet Baker and Victoria de los Angeles are among those who have recorded the work, as have tenor [sic] Gérard Souzay and baritone Bruno Laplante). Davislim excels in this repertory, and the Australian orchestra under Guillaume Tourniaire's direction is in fine form. This is a deluxe presentation with a 100-page booklet along with complete texts and translations.