Les Visages de l’Amour
What poet or composer has never written about love? This fascinating six-song cycle sets a poetic progression of sorts that explores different (and usually successive) stages, aspects and poetic visions of love. The remarkable poems Lasser chose for the cycle are (with two exceptions) from native French poets, several of them well-known. Les Visages begins with two idealistic fantasy-visions of love; ones that – at least from today’s viewpoint – reflect the often naïve notions of hopeless but misguided romantics. Of course, we should remember that European poets of the Romantic and Victorian eras routinely characterized love in such manner.
From there, Lasser and his chosen poets take the listener along something of an emotional arc as the successive songs begin to give voice to more realistic human sentiments and discoveries. More down-to-earth aspects of the emotion are revealed in turn – to include ever-closer examination of love’s irrational and even darker aspects. As Lasser described it, the cycle moves “from idyllic to actual; from general to specific.” Any listener who has loved and/or been loved will find points of personal resonance and sympathy here.
Incidentally, the only one of the poets not native to France is Lasser himself, under the pseudonyms Michel d’Arençon for his “18th Century” poem and Paul Laurent in his more contemporary style. An avowed “closet poet,” he writes beautifully both in French and in English, and – to complete the cycle’s intended artistic design and purpose – included his own verses, providing aspects of love not found in the other poems.