Lose yourself in Chausson’s Poème de l’amour

Susan Graham revives one of the underrated composer's finest works.

Poèmes de l’amour

Composer: Chausson
Repertoire: Poèmes de l’amour
Artists: Susan Graham, BBC SO/Yan Pascal Tortelier
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Vocal
Label: Warner 2564 61938-2

It is very easy to lose oneself in sheer Gallic gorgeousness here. Chausson’s Poème  de l’amour et de la mer is one of this underrated composer’s finest works: more than a song, slightly less than a song cycle, it’s  a fervid evocation of overheated lost love clothed in the darkest, silkiest, most refined melodies and textures. In Graham’s richly thought-out interpretation, you can almost smell the lilac blossom that fragrances the poem; her nuancing of the text by the Symbolist poet Maurice Bouchor is more than exemplary.

Chausson’s music forms a marvellous contrast with the sharper-edged exoticism of Ravel’s Shéhérazade; and John Adams’s sensitive orchestration of Debussy’s Baudelaire songs brings these sensual settings into highly-polished, technicolour relief. It’s fascinating to hear what a contemporary master of orchestration like Adams makes of Debussy’s piano-oriented half-lights; the result manages to be faithful to the spirit of Debussy while also casting the music in a more up-to-the-minute light, with crystalline clarity and extra sprinklings of glitter when appropriate.

Graham sings with a rounded, clear, open tone that can soar in unbridled ecstasy while always remaining precise and well defined. The orchestral accompaniment is warm and sympathetic.  

Discover Music

Beethoven String Quartet manuscript Classical Music News

From the most expensive manuscripts to the greatest artist interviews, find out the latest music news first here.

What's on from 6am-8pm

From More Music Breakfast at 6am through to Classic FM Drive at 5pm, we play a mix of feel-good classics and upbeat favourites providing the perfect soundtrack to your day.