Reason In Madness

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Reason In Madness
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Joseph Middleton (piano)

[ BIS SACD / Hybrid SACD ]

Release Date: Sunday 10 March 2019

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Throughout history men have feared mad women, burning them as witches, confining them in asylums and subjecting them to psychoanalysis - yet, they have also been fascinated, unable to resist fantasizing about them. For their new disc, Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton have created a programme that explores the responses of a variety of composers to women whose stories have left them vulnerable and exposed. As a motto they have chosen an aphorism by Nietzsche: 'There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness.'

Brahms' Ophelia Songs, composed for a stage production of Hamlet, appear next to those by Richard Strauss and Chausson, while Ophelia's death is described by both Schumann (in Herzeleid) and SaintSaëns. Goethe's mysterious and traumatized Mignon appears in settings by Hugo Wolf as well as Duparc, while his ill-used Gretchen grieves by her spinning-wheel in Schubert's matchless setting. Sadness and madness tip into witchery and unbridled eroticism with Pierre Louÿs's poems about Bilitis, set by Kœchlin and Debussy. Sampson and Middleton end their recital as it began, with a suicide by drowning: in Poulenc's monologue La Dame de Monte-Carlo, the elderly female protagonist has been unlucky at the gambling tables and decides to throw herself into the sea

"Much of this repertory suits Sampson wonderfully well. Her silvery tone suggests fragility from the outset, while her restrained way with words admirably conveys the vagaries of desire, distress and confusion…The disc owes its success as much to Middleton as to Sampson. His playing is beautifully subtle and accomplished, and you get a real sense of singer and accompanist thinking and feeling alike throughout." Gramophone

"All performed with Sampson's wonted freshness of tone, superb control and subtle sensuality, with Middleton offering vibrant support." The Guardian


Franz Schubert: Gretchen am Spinnrade, D 118
Robert Schumann: Die Spinnerin, Op. 107 No. 4;
Herzeleid, Op. 107 No. 1
Johannes Brahms: 5 Ophelia-Lieder, WoO 22;
Mädchenlied, Op. 107 No. 5
Richard Strauss: Drei Lieder der Ophelia, Op. 67
Camille Saint-Saëns: La mort d'Ophélie
Ernest Chausson: Chanson d'Ophélie
Claude Debussy: Chansons de Bilitis, L 97 (90)
Charles Kœchlin: Hymne à Astarté; Épitaphe de
Hugo Wolf: 4 Mignon-Lieder from Goethe-Lieder
Henri Duparc: Romance de Mignon; Au pays où
se fait la guerre
Francis Poulenc: La Dame de Monte-Carlo