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The complete songs by Joseph Jongen

volume 2 & 3

Sarah Defrise – soprano

Craig White - piano

listen to it on Spotify

"The Belgian composer Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), who lived most of his life in Liège, is primarily known for his large-scale organ works, such as the Sonata eroïca (1930) and Symphonie concertante for organ and orchestra (1926 27). Musique en Wallonie, however, has been re-examining his wider output of late, including music for piano and orchestra and for voice and chamber ensemble, and to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth has now released this two-disc set of his songs, continuing a complete survey begun in 2019.


This is challenging repertory for a single singer, though Defrise handles it all with considerable aplomb. Her sound is clear and bright, with a hint of metal in the tone and an operatic blaze at the top, which really impresses in the song-cycles, where restraint would be fatal. Words are carefully projected without fracturing lines. Op 29 is notably intense; Les fêtes rouges seems fractionally more detached, as if sometimes numbed by the horrors it describes. Elsewhere, though, there’s room for delicacy, and songs such as the saccharine ‘Le souhait de la violette’ are done with considerable charm. Though the recording itself sometimes places the piano fractionally too far back, White is a fine accompanist, warm in tone and admirably dexterous over a wide stylistic range that veers from drastic simplicity to virtuoso extremes. The accompanying booklet includes scholarly notes by Defrise herself, who is also the author of a doctorate on Jongen’s work. Fascinating, all of it. "


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a tribute to Cathy Berberian
a capella album

Sarah Defrise – soprano

listen to it on Bandcamp

Sarah Defrise dedicates her first new music album to the American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian. The disk features exclusively a capella pieces which were written for Cathy by some of the most prominent composers of her time. Berio’s Sequenza III, Cage’s Aria and Cathy’s own Stripsody have become new music « hits », but « FOR CATHY » also presents lesser known repertoire such as Henri Pousseur’s Phonème pour Cathy, Bussoti’s fragment from Passion selon Sade and Entretien, a piece for electronic tape composed by Sarah Defrise as a tribute to Berberian.
Sarah took an active part in the editing process of the disk in order to create a coherent sound object, displaying the endless possibilities of the human voice.

Cathy Berberian (July 4, 1925 – March 6, 1983)
American mezzo-soprano and composer based in Italy. She worked closely with many contemporary avant-garde music composers, including Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, John Cage, Henri Pousseur, Sylvano Bussotti, Darius Milhaud, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and Igor Stravinsky. As a recital curator, she presented several vocal genres in a classical context, including arrangements of songs by The Beatles as well as folk songs from several countries and cultures. As a composer, she wrote Stripsody (1966), in which she exploits her vocal technique using comic book sounds (onomatopoeia), and Morsicat(h)y (1969), a composition for the keyboard (with the right hand only) based on Morse code. 


Joseph Jongen 
Intégrale des mélodies vol. I

Sarah Defrise – soprano
Craig White – piano

En 2016, Sarah Defrise redécouvre plus de vingt mélodies inédites de Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), certaines conservées dans des cahiers intimes du compositeur. Une telle découverte est un événement important dans le paysage musical belge. La jeune soprano nous offre ainsi le premier enregistrement intégral des mélodies, dont ce disque constitue le premier volume. Nous avons choisi de mettre en regard les œuvres de jeunesse et de maturité du compositeur. Ce disque présente donc un cycle inédit sur des poèmes d’Armand Silvestre (1892), le célèbre cycle de l’op. 25 (1902) dont la première mélodie manquait jusqu’à aujourd’hui, et une sélection de mélodies plus tardives (1909-1928). L’art sensible et subtil de Jongen est porté par l’interprétation intelligente et lumineuse du duo que Sarah forme avec le pianiste anglais Craig White.
Sarah Defrise et Craig White forment un duo depuis 2015. Spécialisé dans la musique française et belge de la fin du XIXe et de la première moitié du XXe siècle, le duo anglo-belge se produit entre la Belgique, la France et l’Angleterre. Musique en Wallonie, célèbre pour son engagement auprès des jeunes interprètes, publie ici leur premier disque.



Thierry Huillet
Un Requiem
Prélude for viola and orchestra

Sarah Defrise – soprano
Laura Tatulescu - soprano

Clara Cernat - viola

Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse

Thierry Huillet - conductor

A Requiem by Thierry Huillet is, like Brahms’ “German Requiem”, a non-liturgical spiritual work, which explores in a personal way the theme of rest in death. She uses texts from the Requiem liturgy, in Latin, Italian and Spanish, putting the music of languages at the service of the music of the notes, but also French poems that highlight the relationship between Death and Light, oscillating between poignant feelings and calming the soul. These French poems cover four areas: mother-child, man-soldier, father-child, love of the couple.

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