By GWEN SISSON
The life and music of celebrated French composers,Gabriel Fauré and Francis Poulenc, will be featured in a recital set for tonight.
Held at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Giles Auditorium of the Mississippi State University Architecture building, the program will feature the works of Fauré (1845-1924) who was one of the foremost composers of his day and an acknowledged master of French art song. An organist, pianist, and teacher, Fauré also is well known for his nocturnes for piano and his Requiem, among other works.
Poulenc (1899-1963), called the great successor to Fauré and Debussy, was considered the greatest French composer of art song of the 20th century. His compositions also include chamber music, opera, and choral works.
Tonight’s recital will feature Dr. Guy A. Hargrove, tenor, will sing some of the most famous art songs (mélodies) of Fauré and Poulenc and will also comment on the songs of Poulenc which he is performing. Dr. Karen Murphy will be the pianist for the program. Dr. James Sobaskie will provide commentary on the life and music of Fauré and Poulenc.
“Blessed are those who live in university towns, for they dwell in the midst of authorities and artists,” said Dr. Robert Wolverton, one of the program organizers. “Most blessed are those who live in Starkville, for they dwell where authorities and artists are blended into first-rate performers. Three such performers are Dr. Guy Hargrove, Dr. Karen Murphy and Dr. James Sobaskie.”
Wolverton said through words and music of these authorities and artists, the audience will be transported back in time to a Paris of poetry and music.
“A city in which poetry offered texts for composers, such as Faure and Poulenc,” Wolverton said.
Tonight’s program will feature art songs, known for their words and melodies and the fact that they mirrored the life and times of poets, composers and the people. Wolverton said Dr. Sobaskie provides a wonderful background for the art songs of Faure through words and visuals, that will put the audience at ease and ready for the six songs performed by Dr. Hargrove.
The six songs are a sampling of the more than 100 songs written by Faure. Wolverton said his favorite song that will be performed tonight will be the Clair de Lune, based on a poem by Verlaine.
“Dr. Hargrove’s voice, as good as ever, is backed by the artistry of Dr. Murphy, whose shadings on the piano match the voice and the melody beautifully,” Wolverton said.
Upon completion of the first set, Dr. Murphy performs the Intermezzo No. 3 in A Flat Major, by Poulenc, with introductory comments that will bring a deep appreciation of Poulenc’s skill as a pianist and a composer.
“The piece was composed in 1943 and reflected some of the composer’s concerns in the middle of World War II,” Wolverton said. “Some sections of the piece are so melodic that they could be extracted and made into popular songs. Dr. Murphy gives a masterful interpretation of the work and the audience will be caught up in the composer’s mind-set.”
The final segment of the program presents seven of the more than 150 art songs composed by Poulenc. Dr. Hargrove, whose scholarship includes the life and works of Poulenc, gives background comments on each piece, offering personal glimpses into a man who seemingly had it all and certainly loved his pet dog.
“These seven songs are as individual and diverse as one can imagine, ranging from the longing after a lost love to imitating the sounds of a violin as played by the greatest virtuoso of all, Paganini,” Wolverton said. “A very noticeable part of the songs and the poems on which they were based is wit, and Dr. Hargrove is able to capture that quality, along with the lyrics and melodies, in a most refreshing way.”
The program on Fauré and Poulenc is open to the public free of charge. Translations into English of the poetic texts of the songs will be included in the printed programs.
“This is a program not to be missed, for it is not often that an audience can partake of the brilliance of three such authorities-artists,” Wolverton said. “Those who plan to attend are urged to arrive early, in order to hear every word and every not of this remarkable program.