Turbulent Heart

Olivier Mabille
Res Musica (France) (English Translation)

After Saint-Saëns’ Hélène and Nuit persane, Guillaume Tourniaire presents another unexpected discovery from the French repertoire: four songs by Vierne which certainly have never been recorded before, as well as Poème de l’amour et de la mer which one rarely hears sung by a tenor.

Like Chausson, Vierne was a student of César Franck from whom he inherited a fundamentally Wagnerian language that was rather anachronistic for works composed between 1914 and 1931. If one is expecting from him the orchestration of an organist—huge and unvarying—one is going to be surprised: Vierne here is a descendant of Berlioz, looking above all for brilliance and clarity. His use of colour is miraculous in the tumult and chaos of Les Djinns, with rhythms varied ingeniously from strophe to strophe In this ‘symphonic poem for voice and orchestra’, the vocal part retains a purity close to declamation ... Pysché [is] also a setting of a Victor Hugo poem. The poet asks a butterfly what is the masterpiece of creation and the response is “a kiss”. Eros, from a poem by Anna de Noailles, offers a beautiful prelude and almost literal borrowings from Tristan through to Parsifal. The Ballade du désespéré was not orchestrated by Vierne but by his disciple Maurice Duruflé; despite several modern touches in the writing for winds, the latter has respected Vierne’s style and has underlined the lineage of the piece with the Funeral March from Siegfried.

 ... Steve Davislim pronounces the French text correctly and sings with a refined voice, but one well coloured and with a solid range. The words are put across with vigour and finesse. The colours of the Queensland Orchestra are resplendent, admirably heightened by the conductor and also by the recording, which finds a remarkable balance between voice, instrumental solos and tuttis that’s not artificial. ... this is a completely captivating album ...