Academic journal article Journal of Singing

"Cantata: Portrait En Miniature De Madame De Sévigné (1626-1696)," by Christopher Berg

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

"Cantata: Portrait En Miniature De Madame De Sévigné (1626-1696)," by Christopher Berg

Article excerpt

Berg, Christopher (b. 1965). Cantata: Portrait en miniature de Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696), pour soprano, tenor, barytone et piano. "Prelude" (trio)/"Une comete" (tenor)/ "Chi offende, non perdona" (soprano)/"... la plus é'tonnante..." (trio sans piano)/ "La grande amitié" (duo soprano, tenor)/ "A Paris, ce vendredi" (baryton)/ "Les gourmandises" (duo soprano, tenor)/ "... mais parlons d'autre chose" (duo soprano, tenor). Tender Tender Music, New York/ Classical Vocal Reprints, 2002.

Like his mentor Richard Hundley, selftaught American composer Christopher Berg is known primarily for his achievements in the area of art song. In addition to the cantata Madame de Sévigné, Berg has completed other commissions from Mirror Visions, including these pieces for vocal trio: Incomincian (Dante), Le Bijoux (Baudelaire), Letter from Richard (Richard Hundley), Trois évantails (Mailarme), and Les Mouches (Benjamin Franklin). Portraiten miniature de Madame de Sévigné is included on the recording Un Américain ä Paris, on the Albany label. The songs are distinctly French in feel, with an exquisite attention to the prosody of these letters from the seventeenth century woman of letters, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné. Composer Berg, student of noted piano pedagogue and composer Robert Helps, has here created challenging and beautiful piano accompaniments for seven of the eight songs. His setting of the French texts are masterful, and convey just the right amount of souciance required for each. He has been compared to Poulenc but the songs are also reminiscent of Enescu's Sept Chansons de Clement Marót. Each voice has been given one solo song, in addition to the duets and trios.

The "Prélude ... á l'hotel de Carnavalet" is an affectionate address to Madame de Sévigne's daughter, and is a brief unaccompanied homophonic introduction for the three voices, with the piano's entrance delayed until the final word, "vous," The piece proceeds immediately to "Une comėte" (A comet), a lyric tenor solo about the Great Comet of 1680, and all it portended for Madame's earthly acquaintances. …

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