Title - 'Illuminations'
Artist - Nicholas Phan
For those not in the know, Nicholas Phan is a lyric tenor who has performed internationally with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and others.
Born to a Chinese Indonesian father and Greek American mother, he grew up in Ann Arbor, MI where he attended Greenhills School, then he studied voice at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, then the Manhattan School of Music.
He is also an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and the Marlboro Music School and has been called "one of the world's most remarkable singers" by the Boston Globe.
Following acclaimed albums devoted to Britten, baroque lute songs and German lieder, Grammy Award-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan continues to spread his wings with his just-released (via AVIE Records) Illuminations.
The album features compositions by Benjamin Britten, Claude Debussy and Gabriel Faure, who were each inspired by the poetry of two nineteenth century French literary titans, Paul Verlaine and his protégé and eventual lover Arthur Rimbaud.
The intertwined lives of the French poets and composers manifested themselves in Faures impassioned Verlaine-inspired La bonne chanson and Debussys Ariettes oubliees drawn from Verlaines Romances sans paroles.
Just decades later Britten was inspired by Rimbauds influential prose-poetry Les Illuminations.
Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924)
La bonne chanson, Op. 61
1. Une sainte en son aureole (2.18)
2. Puisque l’aube grandit (1.55)
3. La lune blanche luit dans les bois (2.31)
4. J’allais par des chemins perfides (1.59)
5. J’ai presque peur en vérité (2.17)
6. Avant que tu ne t’en ailles (2.48)
7. Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d’été (2.42)
8. N’est-ce pas? (2.33)
9. L’hiver a cessé (3.16)
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)
Ariettes oubliées, L. 60
10. C’est l’extase (3.07)
11. Il pleure dans mon coeur (2.35)
12. L’ombre des arbres (2.38)
13. Chevaux de bois (3.17)
14. Aquarelles I – Green (2.23)
15. Aquarelles II – Spleen (2.26)
Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)
Les Illuminations, Op. 18
16. I. Fanfare (2.28)
17. II. Villes (2.24)
18. IIIa. Phrase (1.11)
19. IIIb. Antique (2.20)
20. IV. Royauté (1.35)
21. V. Marine (0.59)
22. VI. Interlude (2.37)
23. VII. Being beauteous (4.11)
24. VIII. Parade (2.48)
25. IX. Départ (2.43)
For his fifth recording project, Phan lovingly turned to the incredibly rich French song repertoire, as well as making a return to recording the music of Benjamin Britten; whose music has long been a passion of his to perform.
Phan actually reunites with his longtime musical partner, pianist Myra Huang. Recital partners for the past 15 years, they have performed together all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, Atlanta's Spivey Hall, University of Chicago, Boston's Celebrity Series, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and London's Wigmore Hall.
For the Fauré cycle, Phan is joined by the recent winners of the prestigious Naumberg and Fischoff competitions, the Telegraph Quartet. For the Britten, he joins The Knights, with whom he has collaborated many times at many music festivals, including Tanglewood, Ravinia, and the NY Phil Biennial.
And therein, if you've not picked up on it yet, this outstanding new classical recording's link is that it ties these three seemingly unrelated cycles together, due to the incredible story behind the two poets whose poems inspired these composers to compose these song cycles: Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.
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