Two of Britain’s leading exponents of French song, the acclaimed sopranos Lorna Anderson and Lisa Milne, join Malcolm Martineau for the second volume of Hyperion’s overview of Debussy’s haunting, mercurial songs. The French composer’s output in this genre extended throughout his life and he was always inspired by poetry—from his first adolescent attempts to set Paul Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes (which he later revised) to the Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé, written five years before his death. All inhabit a universe of shifting colours and impressions, from the sensual, perfumed ‘flutes and flesh’ of the Chansons de Bilitis to the Proses lyriques, which foreshadow the dreamlike atmosphere of Pelléas et Mélisande.
Claude Debussy (born Achille-Claude Debussy) was among the most influential composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His mature compositions, distinctive and appealing, combined modernism and sensuality so successfully that their sheer beauty often obscures their technical innovation. Debussy is considered the founder and leading exponent of musical Impressionism (although he resisted the label), and his adoption of non-traditional scales and tonal structures was paradigmatic for many composers who followed. The son of a shopkeeper and a seamstress, Debussy began piano studies ……..