Schubert et Schumann en français

 

 
 



Schumann
01 Les deux grenadiers: Marcel Journet - G. DB 924
02 Le Noyer: Jean Emile Vanni-Marcoux - G. DB 1123
03 Au loin: Charles Panzera - G. DA 4809

L’amour et la vie d’une femme: Ninon Vallin
au piano Godefroy Andolfi. P X 3470, 3464,3496
04 Ai-je fait un rêve? 05 Noble esprit, noble altière
06 Mon coeur tu frémis 07 Ah! viens calmer ma fièvre
08 L’aube rayonne 09 Tu peux lire dans mes yeux


10 L’Atlas Charles Panzera - Piano G DA 4809
11 La jeune religieuse: Germaine Martinelli
Eugène Bigot C LFX 250
12 La truite: Vanni-Marcoux
Piero Coppola G. DA 989
13 Le Roi des aulnes: Charles Panzera G. DB4948
14 Le sosie Charles Panzera G.DB 4948
15 les rires et les pleurs: Vanni-Marcoux G. DA989
16 Marguerite au rouet: Germaine Martinelli C.LFX 250

La belle meunière: Germaine Martinelli C. RFX 43,44,45
17 Le voyage 18 La bas 19 Un moulin 20 Au ruisseau
21 A la veillée 22 Inquiètudes 23 Impatience
24 Aubade 25 Les fleurs du meunier 26 Pluie de larmes 27 Elle est moi 28 Frisson
29 Les fleurs du meunier (les myosotis):
Vanni-Marcoux G. DB 4821 Piero Coppola
30 Sérénade - Daniel Marty

03 & 10Mme Panzera-Baillot piano
17 à 28 Jean Doyen piano

Schubert and Schumann Lieder in France

In 1813 Mame. De Staël alerted the French to the fact that a new spirit was abroad in Germany with her influential book “De l’Allemagne”. The country that had been doomed to political and cultural impotence by its fragmentation and which had been ruled by courts that looked to Versailles for inspiration was galvanized in the early nineteenth century by the rise of Romanticism and by the Napoleonic invasions. Despite high achievements in literature and the visual arts German Romanticism found its most universal expression in music. The age of Goethe was also the age of Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann. To many both in France and Germany, it seemed that the Gallic spirit and German Romanticism were mutually inimical and that the French were inherently incapable of comprehending the misty profundities of “Deutsche Kunst” – a view that was confirmed by the disastrous reception given to Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” in Paris in 1861. When Romain Roland berated Richard Strauss for his uncritical enthusiasm for Charpentier’s “Louise”, an opera that Roland regarded as vulgar and trivial, Strauss replied airily “But this is how you French are!”.It is striking that three of the most popular and widely performed of French operas, Gounod’s “Faust”, Ambroise Thomas’ “Mignon” and Massenet’s “Werther” were all based on texts by Goethe. In every case though, the original literary work was trivialized and reduced to a simple love story to suit French tastes. Although Gounod’s “Faust” proved as popular in Germany as it did everywhere else, Germans insisted on re-naming the opera “Margarethe”.
The clichéd contrast between the seriousness and healthy masculinity of German culture and the supposed decadent effeminacy of French culture is highlighted by a once famous and widely reproduced painting by the German academic artist Anton von Werner that depicts pink-faced German soldiers in uniforms and muddied boots performing Schumann Lieder in the fussy Louis XV salon of a French chateau occupied during the Franco-Prussian war.
In the middle years of the nineteenth century only two major French composers, Berlioz and Saint-Saëns, stood out against the prevailing preoccupation of French composers with theatrical entertainment and engaged with German music. In his ever-popular second piano concert, in the space of a few minutes at the end of the first movement and the beginning of the second, Saint-Saëns runs the musical gamut from Bach to Offenbach by way of Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Though Saint-Saëns wears his German allegiances on his sleeve, this music remains essentially Parisian at heart. It is none the worse for it of course, but might serve to confirm the stuffier German prejudices against French culture.
In Berlioz France produced a Romantic composer with the genius and originality to match that of any contemporary German. Berlioz’ passion for Beethoven and in particular for Weber is well known. In 1841 Berlioz created a French version of Weber’s operatic masterpiece “Der Freischütz” and transformed the German Singspiel into a full-blown French opera by adding sung recitatives. He also created a mini-opera out of Schubert’s most theatrical song, “Der Erlkönig” by orchestrating it.
It was in the great tradition of the Lied, running from Schubert to Strauss that German Romanticism found its quintessential expression. France produced its own tradition of the Mélodie in parallel, from Berlioz to Poulenc. For a long time in France the German Lied was the preserve of snobs and aesthetes. Huysmans’ 1883 novel “Against Nature” described the reaction of its aesthetic hero Des Esseintes to the music of Schumann and Schubert. “Certain settings for the violoncello by Schumann had left him positively panting with emotion, choking with hysteria; but it was chiefly Schubert’s Lieder that had excited him, carried him away, then prostrated him as if he had been squandering his nervous energy, indulging in a mystical debauch.” It seems that it was peculiarly French to find the songs of Schubert erotic. In the late 1890s the opera singer Georgette Leblanc, mistress of the Belgian playwright Maeterlinck, conceived the then highly unusual idea of presenting a series of concerts to the Parisian public, devoted to the songs of Schubert and Schumann. She recruited her brother Maurice Leblanc (later famous for creating the fictional character of Arsène Lupin) to make literal translations of the texts and Stéphane Mallarmé, no less, to cast them into a more poetic form. Evidently Georgette Leblance felt the songs needed spicing up for the benefit of the concert-going public. On one occasion it was said that her interpretation of “Sei mir gegrüsst” was turned “into an affair of threshing arms, sculptural attitudes and a cry of exasperated, fainting flesh.”
Schumann’s sentimental song cycle “Frauenliebe und Leben” that tells a tale of love and loss, not so different from the tear-jerking chansons popularized by in France by Berthe Sylva, went down well in France. Jules Barbier who co-wrote the libretti of “Faust” and “Mignon” produced a French translation and two excellent versions were recorded in the inter-war period by Germaine Martinelli and Ninon Vallin.
It did not become normal practice for French singers to singer Lieder in the original language until after the Second World War. Gérard Souzay led the way in this. In the inte-war period though many French singers performed and recorded German songs in French. In 1937 Yvonne Printemps included Schubert’s “La jeune fille et la mort” in a recital at the Salle Pleyel. What this exquisite musical comedy star can have made of Schubert’s tragic song is hard to imagine. (One day, perhaps our curiosity will be satisfied as a live recording of the concert exists in private hands.)Amongst the fine singers who recorded Schubert and Schumann Lieder in French were Vanni-Marcoux, Charles Panzéra, Ninon Vallin, Germaine Martinelli, Jean Planel and Marthe Angelici.Some may regard it as quixotic to wish to re-issue old recordings of German songs, sung in another language and in an alien style. Lovers of beautiful voices and great singing will be satisfied. Even lovers of German Lieder may find that familiar songs are freshly illuminated by great artists from another vocal tradition.
Patrick BADE


SCHUBERT et SCHUMANN en français

La musique de Schubert est accessible à tous car elle parle au cœur. Elle traverse donc facilement les frontières. Le nombre de traductions de ses mélodies en français prouve l’intérêt qui lui fut porté dès le XIXème siècle. Hector Berlioz orchestra avec quelle passion Le Roi des Aulnes, œuvre géniale qui étonne par son ton dramatique exprimé par un tout jeune homme. Le grand Franz Liszt n’oublia pas Schubert dans ses transcriptions et le fait connaître au cours de ses voyages. Il se comporta en commis voyageur de la musique des autres et, éventuellement de la sienne !
Le récital de chant consacré à un seul compositeur n’était pas pratiqué au XIXème siècle, cela ne permettait pas de présenter un long cycle de mélodies comme Le Voyage d’Hiver, La Belle Meunière ou Les Amours du Poète. On se contentait d’extraire les morceaux les plus attrayants et de les placer en intermède de pièces symphoniques. Les salons mondains, eux, accueillaient plus volontiers les chanteurs accompagnés par un pianiste.
Charles Panzéra fut un des premiers, dès 1920, à cultiver l’art du récital. Il fit lui-même quelques traductions de mélodies de Schubert et, juste avant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, il enregistra en allemand cette fois les Dichterliebe accompagné par Alfred Cortot. Les chanteurs français présentés ici étaient familiers du répertoire de théâtre lyrique Charles Panzéra fut pensionnaire de l’Opéra-comique, Vanni Marcoux fut un fameux Don Quichotte, Ninon Vallin brilla sur toutes les grandes scènes et, si Germaine Martinelli ne fit pas de théâtre, elle interpréta tous les grands rôles de soprano dramatique au concert et au disque. Tous ces chanteurs possédaient une musicalité qui leur facilitait le passage d’un genre à un autre et donnait, grâce à leur moyens vocaux, un relief particulier à leurs interprétations.
Daniel MARTY


 

 

 


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