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Veronique Gens – soprano / Susan Manoff – piano
Wigmore Hall Monday 1 May 2006

Faure - Sylvie Op 6 No 3; Les berceaux Op 23 No 1; Mandoline Op 58 No 1; Spleen Op 51 No 3; Green Op 58 No 3

Duparc – L'invitation au voyage; Chanson triste; Au pays ou se fait la guerre; Romance de Mignon; Phidyle

Hahn – Quand je fus pris au pavillon; 3 Etudes latines; Trois jours de vendange; A Chloris


Lunch time on May Day and the Wigmore Hall was packed to overflowing for the rare chance to see Veronique Gens present an all-French programme of song.


Although she spends much of her time on the operatic stage she has perfected the art of scaling down her performance to suit the more intimate atmosphere of the concert hall and almost gives the impression that she is addressing each member of the audience individually.


She next turned to Duparc in most persuasive mood, wooing us to lands of sensuous delight and the wondrous abode of Mignon's youth, finishing this set with an impassioned “reward me for my waiting” at the close of Phidyle - one of the Poemes antique of Charles-Marie Lecontes de Lisle.


This was an anthology she picked up again in Reynaldo Hahn's 3 Etudes latines before returning to the more familiar ground of Trois jours de vendange where farandole turns expressively to funeral march and the ever popular A Chloris with its lilting snatch of repeated melody.


The recital was timed to coincide with the issue of a new CD from Veronique Gens with Les Talens Lyrique entitled Tragediennes (Virgin Classics 00946 346762 29), introducing some of the lesser known heroines of French opera from Lully to Gluck - and I must admit to being one of the many who succumbed to the temptation to buy a week before the album is officially released.


© Serena Fenwick