BERNARD FOCCROULLE (b.1953): E vidi quattro stelle: Scena for Baritone, Soprano, Cornet, 3 Trombones, Harp and Large Organ.
Catalogue Number: 11W061
Label: Fuga Libera
Reference: FUG 762
Description: A powerful and unusual work, setting and illustrating Dante’s Purgatorio. Relatively neglected by composers in favor of the more spectacular Inferno, this text is rich in narrative and memorable imagery, which Foccroulle presents with the utmost vividness and finesse. The unusual instrumentation is an important part of this; the nasal sound of the early trombones provides the idea timbral foil to the weight of the organ, and the harp is given an important role, its silvery tone standing out light highlight in a chiaroscuro scene. The contour and intervals, and ornaments, assigned to the vocal parts lend a certain archaic quality to the melodic lines, rather than suggesting the conventional tonality of classical to modern opera, with the exception of the passage describing the meeting between Dante and Beatrice, which contrasts with the rest of the work in its vocal style, rich tonal harmony and sense of operatic drama. The way the work progresses from a series of imposing, descriptive tableaux to a human drama is one of the work’s great strengths, and the sure sense of a narrative arc is clear and unmistakable. As in the orchestral and chamber works we offered previously (01P080), the composer’s idiom is an outgrowth of the last flowering of late romanticism, ideal for the darkness-to-light trajectory of Dante’s narrative, its progress always upward. Beatrice is given some of the most beautiful music in the piece in her arias after meeting Dante, which are almost operatic in nature. It is also here that the organ, which has thus far appeared in a largely accompanimental role as part of the ensemble, shadowing Dante, suddenly emerges into the spotlight with a cascade of dissonant chords as the narrative turns to Dante himself. This part of the narrative culminates in the work's blazing climax, with full organ and brass, as the sun arrives at its zenith. The journey to Paradise and a final reunion with Beatrice is depicted in a final, radiant, coda. Italian-English texts. Nikolai Borchev (baritone), Alice Foccroulle (soprano), InAlto; Ouri Bronchti.