Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us


L'Invitation au Voyage

St John's , Smith Square 21 April 2006

Paul Turner - Artistic Director and pianist

Susan Bickley – mezzo soprano

Thomas Carroll – cello

Duparc – L'Invitation au Voyage; Elegie; Lamento; Romance de Mignon; Chanson Triste; Au Pays ou se fait la Guerre

Faure – Elegy

Debussy – Cello sonata

Wagner – Wesendonck Lieder

Poulenc – Cello Sonata

Grieg – Nocturne (encore)


The Invitation was to embark on a series of three concerts “programming the complete solo songs of Henry Duparc, together with music by his influences and contemporaries”.


Duparc must be one of the most enigmatic of all composers. He ceased composing at 36, yet despite failing eyesight he continued to take a very active interest in all branches of the arts for almost another half century. His published legacy of just 13 songs, has been expanded by just a handful that were salvaged after his death, but his influence spread far more widely.


Placing his works in the context cleverly devised by Paul Turner allowed us to listen to them through the ears of a contemporary audience and experience the freshness and excitement these new musical ideas must have generated.


Not surprisingly Invitation au Voyage led off into a group of Duparc's songs in which Susan Bickley and Paul Turner painted reflective tone pictures. The relative tranquillity of Invitation and Elegie succeeded by a strong and stirring Mignon, a Chanson Triste of great tenderness, with the piano part suggesting a myriad of colours, and finally the ballad like Pays ou se fait la Guerre.


Thomas Carroll was next on stage to join Paul Turner in an emotionally charged performance of Faure's Elegie . They followed this with Debussy's Cello Sonata, even more impressive, negotiating the rapid changes of tempo and key with élan.


After the interval Susan Bickley returned with the Wesendonck Lieder in a rather restrained, and detached presentation – almost an impressionist version – which fitted well within the framework of the rest of the evening.


The final item on the programme was Poulenc's Cello Sonata, where the cello part is written almost as though it were a vocal role, and arguably doesn't quite bring it off. Thomas Carroll started off at a brisk marching pace in the opening allegro , but seemed less happy as the piece progressed, and the ballabile danced with rather flat feet.


The evening would not have been complete without an encore, and Paul Turner sent us away into the night with the elusive melody of Grieg's Nocturne.


Serena Fenwick


See also Richard Whitehouse's review of the last concert in this series.