Turbulent Heart

5 December 2009
The Weekend Australian

Steve Davislim’s new recording features rarely heard symphonic songs by Louis Vierne, the late 19th-century French composer best known for his organ works. Vierne’s musical language is richly romantic, his orchestrations luxuriant and these extended songs sit somewhere between tone poem and operatic scene. The thoughtful coupling with Chausson’s enchanting Poème de l’amour et de la mer is well conceived. Vierne is at his imaginative best in Les Djinns, Victor Hugo’s poem about an attack of evil spirits and Ballade du désespéré where death comes knocking. Vierne magnifies the drama of the text with an intense grandeur that is always bold, if at times overblown. Davislim treads a line between passion and restraint, his innate artistry ensuring these performances don’t slip into melodrama. His tone quality is always refined and he brings a poetic sensitivity to the reflective passages. An experienced art song singer, Davislim has a warm suppleness that blends beautifully with the orchestral sonorities. The Queensland Orchestra and conductor Guillaume Tourniaire provide solid support ... the excellence of Davislim’s singing makes this an appealing disc.