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MP3 Maria Lagios, soprano Elizabeth Buccheri, piano - Songs of Les Six

A collection of Les Six mélodies reflecting the French aestetic in the early 1920''s espousing clarity in melody, texture and form as well as poignancy, charm and wit in the poetry.

36 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary, WORLD: World Traditions

The appellation Les Six was the creation of the French journalist Henri Collet. The group was bound not so much by commonality of aesthetic expression, but by shared reaction against the influence of Wagner and by distaste for both Expressionism and Impressionism.

Despite a brief burst of collective activity in the early 1920''s when the group espoused a return to clarity in melody, texture, and form these six very different composers went their separate ways. Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, and Francis Poulenc gained renown in international music circles; but the others gained scant notice outside their native France. Auric achieved administrative prominence as director of the Paris Opera and the Opera Comique. Tailleferre revived her compositional career after retiring early into wife-and motherhood. And Durey, a political and musical idealist, disassociated himself from Parisian musical activity by moving to the south of France.

Arthur Honegger, born in Le Havre of Swiss parents, was the symphonist of the group. His five large-scale essays in that genre are gradually becoming part of the orchestral repertoire. His dramatic oratorios Le roi David and Jeanne d''Arc have been more successful worldwide. A sizable body of chamber and vocal music remains to be discovered by performers and audiences alike.

Darius Milhaud, in his autobiography Notes without Music (1953), describes himself as "a Frenchman from Provence, and by religion a Jew." The most cosmopolitan of Les Six, Milhaud traveled widely in his youth, absorbing influences in urban popular and folk music from Brazil to New York City. His output in all genres is enormous but of uneven quality. He is best remembered for two early works: Le bouef sur le toit, a superbly constructed orchestral rondo originally conceived as a ballet score; and La création du monde, one of the earliest and most successful attempts to blend jazz with a classical idiom. In Milhaud''s vocal music, one hears an abundant awareness of the sensual and expressive possibilities of the human voice.

Francis Poulenc, scion to wealth and a quintessential Parisian, is composer of some of the most immediately appealing music in the 20th century. His musical language was strongly influenced by the French clavecin composers Rameau and Couperin, by theater music, and overwhelmingly by Igor Stravinsky. With these influences and a liberal injection of Parisian popular music, Poulenc fashioned an individual style by juxtaposing witty impudence and great expressive power. His vocal music is based in tonality, and much of it has become standard in the choral and solo repertoire.

Like Milhaud, Tailleferre, and Honegger, Georges Auric studied composition with Charles-Marie Widow at the Paris Conservatory. Subsequently, Auric was particularly involved with music for the theater, and also contributed greatly to the development of music in the cinema. Of note are his score for Jean Cocteau''s La belle et la bête (1946) and a memorable theme song for director John Huston''s Moulin Rouge (1952).

Germaine Tailleferre''s musical language is reminiscent of French romantics and impressionists, and the body of her work is small and intimate in scale and expression. With more attention given to the work of women composers in recent years, Tailleferre''s compositions are now frequently heard worldwide.

Louis Durey, the eldest of Les Six, was also the first to disassociate himself from the other five. A composer with uncompromising political ideals, Durey joined the French Communist Party in 1936, and became general secretary of the Popular Music Federation the same year. Much of his large and varied output remains unpublished.


Maria Lagios'' reputation as a concert artist spans a wide range of repertoire from Baroque to American pops. She has appeared with major orchestras in the United States and Europe and has received acclaim for her innovative recitals in Japan, France, Switzerland and the USA. Performances on Chicago WFMT live broadcasts, PBS television, the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, and in the commercial recording studio, have established her career as an active and versatile artist.

The art song recital has long been her favorite venue and she continues to develop innovative programming formats with collaborators Dalton Baldwin, Martin Katz, and David Schrader. "Songs of Les Six" with Elizabeth Buccheri and "Songs from the Garden" reflect her interest and expertise in the esoteric as well as the standard art song repertoire. She has sung in ten languages and delights in exploring the songs of many cultures.

She has been a pivotal performer of contemporary art song and an advocate for new music. Her work as a master teacher in the private studio and in public classes has taken her to Europe and the Orient. She maintains a private studio in addition to her position as associate professor at Roosevelt University where she organized the biannual International Song Festival.


Elizabeth Buccheri, pianist, is one of Chicago''s most sought after musicians. Known for her musical versatility and sensitive pianism, she is in demand as chamber musician, vocal coach, and educator. A native South Carolinian, she was educated at Winthrop College and at the Eastman School of Music, from which she received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and the Performer''s Certificate in Piano. At Eastman she was a student of the eminent collaborative pianist, Brooks Smith.

While in Rochester, Buccheri was pianist for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 1987, Buccheri has been an assistant conductor at Lyric Opera of Chicago, specializing in productions of twentieth-century scores. Since 1976, she has also been associated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the preparation of performances and recordings in this country and abroad. A faculty member at North Park University since 1969, she is founder and music director of the concert series, Chamber Music at North Park. From 1988 to 1991, Buccheri performed as collaborative pianist in the Ravinia Festival''s Steans Institute for Young Artists.

In recent seasons she has been heard in concert with the brilliant young violinists, Midori, Gil Shaham, Pawel Berman, and Anne Akiko Meyers, and with the Vermeer and Shanghai string quartets. Elizabeth Buccheri has recorded solo and chamber music on the CRI, Spectrum, Sony, and Cedille labels, and was responsible for musical preparation on London Records'' Grammy-award winning issues of Schoenberg''s Moses und Aron and Wagner''s Die Meistersinger, and of Verdi''s Otello, Sir Georg Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists.

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