Here is one of the gems that have popped out at me while rehearsing the Fauré set these past couple of weeks :
"Le jour qui luit est le meilleur;" – Lydia, Leconte de Lisle
The day that dawns is the best one.
If only we could think that way all the time, right? How happy we would always be…
We all have many experiences that lead us away from our innocence – it seemed to make sense to begin an exploration of experience in the recital program with the experience of love, that experience that has proven to be a seemingly endless source for the inspiration of all kinds of artistic forms of expression. The beginnings of love are so amazing and mind-blowing. The person who has become the apple of our eye is like a drug that we can't seem to get enough of – it is impossible for that initial desire to be sated. Everything about the other person is enjoyable, and our heart seems determined to open itself to experiencing them regardless of circumstance or reciprocal desire. Such unabashed enthusiasm always feels fresh and new each time I have experienced it, and, in a way, it is different each time. Each time I have fallen in love, it is as if the innocence in my heart cannot help but release itself from the chains of my experienced inhibitions.
I first heard Le plus doux chemin on a recital of French music that I performed at Wolf Trap with Steve Blier. Steve had chosen the song to start off the program and had given it to my dear friend Aaron Judisch. I've been intrigued by the song ever since. It seemed to lead perfectly into Chanson d'amour both in terms of key and text – both songs refer to a "rebellious one", in this case, seemingly an attractive quality. In Le plus doux chemin, the sweetest path is the one that leads to love's doorstep, despite love's rebelliousness. Chanson d'amour is an outpouring of a lover's heart – a list of all the qualities that he cherishes and enjoys in his rebellious lover. Lydia was the very first French song that I ever studied – Fauré quickly became one of my favorite composers after discovering that song. Both Nell and Lydia are passionate dedications of love – the unrestrained pledges of the heart that we innocently and daringly put forth in order to experience one of the greatest joys life's journey has to offer.