David's Review Corner
, October 2009
It has oft been commented that Darius Milhaud composed far too much for his own good, but if you pick your way through his output you will find many jewels. That is most certainly the case with his songs, numbering more than three hundred titles for voice and piano, Alissa certainly worth of a place in the song repertoire. It is a cycle that relates the story of two young lovers who hear a sermon in church, and the young man decides to follow a path of virtue. Alissa, believing that her bodily desires would only compromise that virtue, slowly moves away from their relationship, leaving the young man bereft of understanding of her rejection. It is a moving story Milhaud relates in seven songs and a movement for solo piano. It extends well past thirty minutes and shares the disc with the world premiere recording of L’Amour chant—a score combining nine short cameos of love—and Poèmes juifs from his younger years. In this genre Milhaud seems to have neither changed nor developed his style with the passing of years, the music always falling easily on the ears. It is sung by the distinguished American soprano, Carole Farley, who reduces the natural weight of her voice to create the blend of emotions expressed. Her diction is immaculate, and in her much experienced accompanist, John Constable, she has an admirable partner. The disc does not make clear whether it has been available before, but dates back to 1992, the sound well balanced and of admirable quality. Much recommended.