Marie-Nicole Lemieux looks for that mythical place (Wigmore Hall, 2 November 2018)
My first encounter with Lemieux was via my favourite Vivaldi aria:
Having to pass the test of a favourite is the tallest order for a anyone but she did it brilliantly. Since then I’ve kept an eye out for her stops in London. I eventually saw her as the Sphynx in Enescu’s Oedipe, testimony to her wide-ranging repertoire.
She didn’t sing this last night, but that aria is a surprisingly good example of her temper. She actually is like that in a recital.
MNL to late comers: (signals to Vignoles) let’s stop for a moment and greet the new arrivals. Please, take your seats.
MNL to people who haven’t turned their phones off: you have two seconds to turn it off.
MNL to people who rush out before the encores: bye-bye, see you soon!
Hahaha! What a heroine! Others (who had come on time, stayed until the end and had turned off their mobiles) enjoyed the attitude so much, the applause started to materialise at random times, which resulted in MNL requesting for people to applaud at appropriate times. Haha! That being said, she gave us a very sweet and emotional thank you in the end, so she clearly did appreciate people who were into the performance.
ps: I really enjoyed her choice of jewellery – black squares for the German rep, and silver “chainmail” for the French.
Marie-Nicole Lemieux contralto
Roger Vignoles piano
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Kennst du das Land? Op. 98a No. 1
Lied der Suleika Myrthen Op. 25
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Der Musensohn D764
Gretchen am Spinnrade D118
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Wonne der Wehmut Op. 83 No. 1
Die Trommel gerühret Op. 84 No. 1
Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847)
Über allen gipfeln ist Ruh
Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Frühling übers Jahr
Kennst du das Land
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Chant d’automne Op. 5 No. 1
Déodat de Séverac (1872-1921)
Hymne Op. 7 No. 2
Gustave Charpentier (1860-1956)
La mort des amants
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Le jet d’eau
Henri Duparc (1848-1933)
L’invitation au voyage
La vie antérieure
more Goethe one of which was Connais-tu le pays?
So much vitality! And a surprising amount of cheerful songs; most singers have a tendency to take themselves very seriously in these recitals – which might just be their personality and we probably love them exactly for that – but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be funny and silly and show off your technique and understanding of the text at the same time.
I really liked the German songs, rather surprisingly, since usually if there is a selection of French and German and the singer is French, I’ll go for the French chanson – but somehow I felt the German stuff fit her better. How unusual! I don’t know if I’m right, because there was of course nothing wrong with the French stuff. Perhaps the juxtaposition oomphed the German material, which had more Lebenslust, dare I say, whereas the French songs were more languid (Le jet d’eau, for instance; though Les hiboux was very cool and so was Chant d’automne1). But, considering she returned to Goethe for the encores, it’s clear she enjoys the German rep a lot.
I was further surprised how much time she spent in the top region of her voice. She went from very conversational, typical “lieder singing”, to booming for effect (better turn that phone, off, buddy 😉 ) and from the top to very secure (but not super low) bottom on enough occasions but on the whole was more mezzo than contralto, not that’s a bad thing. There is a reason my mezzos-and-contraltos section is labeled thus. I also enjoyed her and Vignoles’ communcation with each other, which added to the charged allure of the evening.
Between Galoumisù two weeks ago and Lemieux last night, the French connection has been happily reestablished.
- I don’t know if this is about “pitting” Goethe and Baudelaire, because in literature I did enjoy Baudelaire a lot sooner than Goethe. To be fair, I have been behind in re-reading the classics in recent times… I won’t say “I didn’t have time” because that is a shitty/laughable excuse; I simply did not return to the readings of teenage years. ↩
Posted on November 3, 2018, in live performances, mezzos & contraltos, wigmore hall and tagged claude debussy, déodat de séverac, ernest chausson, fanny mendelssohn, franz schubert, gabriel fauré, gustave charpentier, henri duparc, hugo wolf, ludwig van beethoven, marie-nicole lemieux, robert schumann, roger vignoles, wigmore hall. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.