CD review: Poemes

Lilian Meurin
Accompanist: Victor Métral


The recital spotlight is the most unforgiving of platforms on which to display individual musical excellence.  It demands an almost narcissistic level of self-confidence.

There is nowhere to camouflage weakness; be it an emerging student or a world renowned soloist. It forensically exposes the bare essentials of a performer’s resolve; an artistic testing ground whose results measure both creativity as well as sterility.

Admiration therefore for any player who meets its challenge, both on-stage or in the recording studio, with the talented French euphonium player Lilian Meurin (joined by the excellent Victor Métral), fully deserving of the plaudits for this compact release. 

Impressionist touches

He has chosen his repertoire well; five considered works (amounting to just 53 minutes of playing) that nonetheless provide a varied stylistic presence built around Gabriel Philippot’s imposing title track concerto.

It pays homage to the influence of Maurice Ravel and a trio of France’s greatest 19th century poets in a triptych full of impressionist touches redolent of the post-romantic era.

The ‘Art Poétique’ finale is packed with dramatic fervour; linking two poems by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), whose dissolute life intertwined with Rimbaud was marked by its rather lurid (for its time) expressionism.  You can almost smell the absinthe on the breath.

The music evokes surrealist musical imagery, especially in the extended opening movement, ‘Sensation’ - inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s (1854- 1891) sensory metaphor to blissful, eternally youthful love.

Baudelaire’s ‘Tristesse de la lune’ (1821-1867) that follows personifies a deeper sense of figurative female longing - an untouchable, capricious lunar beauty that sits on a cushion of inviting sensuality. 

The ‘Art Poétique’ finale is packed with dramatic fervour; linking two poems by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), whose dissolute life intertwined with Rimbaud was marked by its rather lurid (for its time) expressionism.  You can almost smell the absinthe on the breath.

Haunting quality

Elsewhere, Ravel’s ‘Pavane pour une infant defunte’ retains its haunting quality - an evocative memory of time passed rather than a soul departed, played with a tender appreciation of line and sentiment, whilst Saint-Saens’ ‘Swan’  drifts elegantly on a mill pond of flowing accompaniment. Faure’s ‘Papillon’, is full of ephemeral fragility flirting on the breeze.

Luc Vertommen’s clever ‘Carmen Fantasy’ rounds off an impressive recital showcase with a fine puff of thigh-rolling Cohiba flavoured spirit.

Iwan Fox

To purchase: http://https://www.lilianmeurin.com/portfolio-items/poemes/

Play list:

1. Poèmes (Gabriel Philippot)
i. Mvt 1
ii. Mvt 2
iii. Mvt 3
4. Pavane pour une infant defunte (Ravel arr. Meurin)
5. Papillon (Faure)
6. Le Cygne (Camille Saint-Saens)
7. Carmen Fantasy (Luc Vertommen)  

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