Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Berlioz, Nuits d'été. Janet Baker.n°1. Villanelle.

Note: This is the only one that is out of sink. The rest are fine.
All translations are from the Lied Art Song Texts Page- Link at left of blog.


When verdant spring again approaches,
When winter's chills have disappeared,
Through the woods we shall stroll, my darling,
The fair primrose to cull at will.

The trembling bright pearls that are shining,
Each morning we shall brush aside;
We shall go to hear the gay thrushes

The flowers are abloom, my darling,
Of happy lovers 'tis the month;
And the bird his soft wing englossing,
Sings [carols sweet]1 within his nest.

Come with me on the mossy bank,
Where we'll talk of nothing else but love,
And whisper with thy voice so tender:

Far, far off let our footsteps wander,
Fright'ning the hiding hare away,
While the deer at the spring is gazing,
Admiring his reflected horns.

Then back home, with our hearts rejoicing,
And fondly our fingers entwined,
Lets return, let's return bringing fresh wild berries


  1. I think that Janet Baker does an incredible job in this song of creating beautiful melodic shaping but also being able to shape the phrases rhythmically. It would be too easy when the orchestra is just giving her a pulse to become influenced by that.

  2. Such seemingly effortless singing! I agree with Ben regarding the beautifully shaped phrases along with the more pulsating orchestral phrases. Amazing technique!!

  3. It's incredible to hear such powerful singing! I would put her and Franco Corelli in the same ilk of singers who could dwarf an orchestra. He diction is so bubbly and alive. Very appropriate to the text. And the orchestra is never in the way but always complementing with its lilting accompaniment.

  4. Her french is very buoyant and bright and makes what a real Spring feel in her sound. It's funny because the only Berlioz i am very familiar with is his Symphonie Fantastic and this is such a departure from that! It does have that same light hearted pastoral section in the Symphonie that could be compared, but this has a much less drug induced ending

  5. The essence of the spring time images created in the poetry is convincingly presented both in the composition and in the performance by Baker and the orchestra. What a beautiful treat to hear her sing this work!

  6. For what it's worth, I've prepared a new English translation of the text for a concert I'm hosting next week:

    English version ©2009, by Edward Lein (Please notify/credit if reprinting)

    When the new season ventures here,
    When it drives away the cold wind,
    Into the woods we shall go, dear,
    There lilies of the valley to find.
    Where, underfoot, dew shines like pearls
    Seen shimmering in the morning sun,
    We’ll listen to the whistling blackbirds'
        New song.

    The springtime has come, my darling,
    The time all young lovers like best;
    And the bird, his satin wings preening,
    Sings verses perched high on his nest.
    Oh! Come sit on the bank so mossy,
    We'll speak of our sweet loves all day,
    And you’ll whisper to me so softly:

    We’ll trod far off the footpath, wandering
    And frightening the hare from his form,
    And a deer, at the mirror-like spring
    Admiring his great branching horns.
    Then home again, sound and merry,
    Bringing baskets, our fingers entwined,
    Returning with fresh strawberries
        Grown wild.

    Posted with the French text at http://mainconcerts.blogspot.com/2009/05/526-615-pm-anne-elise-richie.html
    Also there are translations of Le spectre de la rose and L’île inconnue.

  7. Ed Lein,
    Thank you very much for leaving this here. Your translation is wonderful and very much appreciated. Have you done other translations for song repertoire? They would always be welcome here!

  8. Thanks. I've only done a few translations, and only in the context of writing programs notes--when I can't find English versions in the public domain (or if I just don't like the translations that I've found ...).

    Apart from the 3 Berlioz songs and Santoliquido's 'I canti di sera' on the page linked above, the few others I've done have been mostly opera arias rather than art songs. (See at: http://mainconcerts.blogspot.com/2009/01/2102009-630-pm-mu-phi-epsilon-student.html)

    I'll mention, too, that for a while I do a lot of revision--the Berlioz translations aren't yet a week old, and I've already made a couple of little changes to the one I posted here this morning :)

  9. Baker's voice is so beautiful! And I really like her temperament, she is just so calm and singing just seems effortless to her.

  10. I really enjoyed her energy in this opening piece. There is such a feeling of power in her voice and it feels as though it is really communicating the freshness and excitement of experiencing love in the springtime. Her voice soared over the orchestra and had an incredible feeling of calm combined with a rhythmic liveliness.

  11. I really enjoyed her energy in this opening piece. There is such a feeling of power in her voice and it feels as though it is really communicating the freshness and excitement of experiencing love in the springtime. Her voice soared over the orchestra and had an incredible feeling of calm combined with a rhythmic liveliness.

  12. I love the exuberance in her approach and how her voice builds to the apex of each phrase. She achieves an amazing balance, as her line is free and expansive, but never over-the-top.

  13. This piece has such a lightness and buoyancy that captures the warmth and glow of spring. I particularly like Baker's interpretation of the text "Et dis-moi de ta voix si douce toujours," where she creates a moment of intimacy in the midst of the excitement of the rest of the piece.

  14. Janet Baker is flawless in this opening piece! There is such a lightness in her performance and she is totally comfortable with the text and what she is saying. Abby, I love what you say about her line being "free and expansive, but never over-the-top"! What a great observation and comment on how we should perform French music!

  15. In contrast to the other pieces in this cycle, I am surprised by how energetic, playful, and joyful this movement is. The low string writing creates such a nice contrast to the high winds that contribute to a delightful depiction of spring.

  16. I love the playful nature of this piece. Berlioz does a wonderful job setting the verdant and spring-like text, and the buoyance and lightness in the text is expressed excellently by Janet Baker. I am really impressed by her ability to stay true to the "lightness" of the composition, without sacrificing engagement in her body, or cutting off her sound.

  17. I love the excitement in her voice throughout this opening piece. The precision of the rhythm is wonderful and the ritard around 1:04 is very tastefully done and quickly goes back to a tempo.

  18. This music is wonderful and Janet Baker's performance is extraordinary. I love how she so eloquently executed the rhythms and phrasing. Her vocal color is perfect for the text and it all sounds so effortless. A beautiful opening to this cycle.

  19. I will admit this is the first time I have had the pleasure to hear a performance of Janet Baker, and what a delightful one! From the beginning, it is clear she has a clear and gorgeous tone that matches the character of the music. Her characterizations of the strophic piece were stunning, but in the elegant manner that all french song should be done.