I was speaking to mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke recently for her upcoming feature in Classical Singer, and she mentioned that one of her favorite pieces is this extending vocal concerto, by the lesser-played composer Ernest Chausson. I found this live recording of the inimitable Kathleen Ferrier, performing with her good friend and equally inimitable John Barbirolli. It was one of her last performances, recorded two years before she died at age 41.
I’m not the greatest francophile when it comes to music – to me it’s the musical equivalent of an elaborate French dessert, sweet and fussy – but this one is worth listening to again and again. Click here for the lyrics to the first part, or just skip it and enjoy the dreamy, somehow sad, lushness. I hear in it the forerunner of Debussy’s La Mer, but even more floaty. In any case, luxuriating in Ferrier’s plush sound is enough. The instrumental interlude with a prominent, meandering bassoon is also full of personality.