Natalie Dessay, Soprano
Philippe Cassard, Piano
MOZART "Giunse alfin il momento... Deh vieni non tardar" from Le nozze di Figaro
SCHUBERT "Geheimes," D. 719
SCHUBERT "Die junge Nonne," D. 828
SCHUBERT "Lied der Mignon," D. 877, No. 4
SCHUBERT "Suleika I," D. 720
SCHUBERT "Gretchen am Spinnrade," D. 118
MOZART "Ach, ich fühl's" from The Magic Flute
PFITZNER Alte Weisen, Op. 33
CHAUSSON "Chanson perpétuelle," Op. 37
BIZET "Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe" from Vingt mélodies, No. 4
DEBUSSY "La Fille aux cheveux de lin" from Preludes, Book I
DEBUSSY "Ondine" from Preludes, Book II
DEBUSSY "Coquetterie posthume"
GOUNOD "Air des Bijoux" from Faust
DELIBES "Les filles de Cadix"
R. STRAUSS "Breit über mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar," Op. 19, No. 2
DEBUSSY "Mes longs cheveux" from Pelléas et Mélisande
DELIBES "Tu m'as donné le plus doux rêve" from Lakmé
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
At a Glance
If Susanna’s aria is an idyll, the second Mozart aria is a lament: the sorrowful strains of Pamina when she believes herself to be deprived of Tamino’s love in Die Zauberflöte. This is followed by Pfitzner’s cycle of Alte Weisen (Olden Tunes), in which eight female characters upbraid, lament, and dominate their lovers.
On the second half of this evening’s program, we move to France and to more death-haunted scenarios, beginning with a song of love and death by Chausson in which a woman laments her abandonment and contemplates suicide. Philippe Cassard is one of the world’s foremost interpreters of Debussy’s evocative piano music, and we hear two of the composer’s preludes, each inspired by tales of love: a poem about a lovely girl with flaxen hair and artist Arthur Rackham’s depiction of the water fairy Ondine. The love we find in two early Debussy songs written for a coloratura soprano in the early 1880s tells of regret for love lost and a macabre avowal of love expressed, even in a woman’s coffin.
Faust’s Gretchen (“Marguerite” in French) returns to end this evening’s program. Gounod’s aria, known as the “Jewel Song,” is one of the great showpieces for sopranos in the entire operatic repertory; if it seems to be all things light, bright, and glittery, we know that tragedy and death are just around the corner.
Natalie Dessay has performed on the most important international stages since the beginning of her career, singing roles by Mozart (Blondchen, Queen of the Night, and Pamina) and Strauss (Fiakermilli, Zerbinetta, and Sophie). Ms. Dessay is also a great performer of the French repertoire, with roles that include Ophélie, Minka, Lakmé, Olympia, Juliette, and Manon. She is regularly invited to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Milan's Teatro alla Scala, Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu, Opéra national de Paris, and London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Ms. Dessay also sings bel canto repertoire, including La sonnambula and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, which she has sung at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and Opéra national de Paris; she has also recorded the role under Valery Gergiev. Ms. Dessay has sung Marie (La fille du régiment) at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House,Vienna State Opera, and Opéra national de Paris, directed by Laurent Pelly. She has also sung Violetta (La traviata) to huge success in Tokyo, as well as at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Vienna State Opera, and Metropolitan Opera.
After meeting Emmanuelle Haïm, Ms. Dessay began to interpret, among others, the works of Handel, singing Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare) at the Opéra national de Paris. Ms. Dessay also collaborates with Michel Legrand, with whom she has toured in Europe, North America, and South America. Also interested in theater, she performs in Howard Barker's monologue Und.
Ms. Dessay shares the recital stage with Laurent Naouri and Maciej Pikulski in a program dedicated to French songs, and gives regular recitals with Philippe Cassard, performing German lieder and French songs all over the world. Ms. Dessay released a recording with Mr. Cassard dedicated to Debussy, Claire de Lune, in 2013, and another, Fiançailles pour rire, in 2015-both on Erato. A new Schubert recording with Mr. Cassard was released last month on Sony Classical.
Ms. Dessay was awarded the title of Kammersängerin by the Vienna State Opera.
Philippe Cassard has established an international reputation as concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician since giving a joint recital with Christa Ludwig in Paris in 1985. The same year, he was finalist at the Clara Haskil Piano Competition; three years later, he won first prize at the Dublin International Piano Competition.
Mr. Cassard has performed as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orchestre National de France, and many more. He regularly visits China, Australia, South America, and Canada, and has worked with many conductors, including Sir Neville Marriner, Jeffrey Tate, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Raymond Leppard, Charles Dutoit, Armin Jordan, Marek Janowski, Emmanuel Krivine, and Thierry Fischer.
Mr. Cassard's performance of the complete piano works of Debussy (four recitals in a single day)-presented in London (Wigmore Hall), Dublin, Paris, Lisbon, Sydney, Singapore, and Tokyo-received extremely enthusiastic press and media coverage. Released by Decca, the collection was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in 1994.
Mr. Cassard also performs a large repertoire of chamber music, and has appeared with such artists as Angelika Kirchschlager, Wolfgang Holzmair, Cédric Pescia, Paul Meyer, David Grimal, Anne Gastinel, Matt Haimovitz, and Isabelle Faust; as well as with the Ebène, Modigliani, Takács, Auryn, Vanbrugh, Danish, and Chilingirian string quartets.
His recording of Schumann's Humoreske and Fantasiestücke was named Editor's Choice by Gramophone. Mr. Cassard's other releases (Schubert's Impromptus and Brahms's Klavierstücke, Op. 116-119) have been received very warmly. His recent Schubert recording (including the Piano Sonata in
A Major, D. 959, and four-hands piano music) with Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia for La Dolce Volta was awarded Classica's 2014 Choc de l'année.
Mr. Cassard served as artistic director of the Nuits Romantiques du Lac du Bourget festival from 1999 to 2008. Since 2005, he has presented more than 400 live programs dedicated to piano interpretation on France Musique radio. He has written an essay on Schubert, and a book on cinema and music.