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Ernest Chausson is a most unusual figure in French music, positioned at the crossroads where the romanticism of Berlioz and Franck meet the language of Wagner and the symbolism of the young Debussy. His Poème de l’amour et de la mer is a unique score for the period and certainly his greatest work; simultaneously a profane, naturistic cantata, a monologue, and a song cycle, it was composed between 1882 and 1892.
Véronique Gens is recording this cycle for the first time, although she has already issued ‘Le temps des lilas’ with Susan Manoff at the piano for her disc Néère (ALPHA 215), about which Ernst Van Bek wrote in Classiquenews: « it mesmerises with the nuancing of its colours, the allusive precision of every sung word ». Véronique Gens’ talent is equally on display in this recording too, with the Orchestre National de Lille – an orchestra she already knows well – under Alexandre Bloch, its new chief conductor, whose appointment and first concerts and recordings have already caused a sensation… The Symphony in B flat major completes this programme: a summit of French symphonic writing, for some a milestone as important as the Symphony in D of Chausson’s teacher César Franck!