This Island

This Island


Susan Narucki, soprano
Donald Berman, piano

Release Date:

10th February 2023

Cat No:






“this album may well prompt a continued exploration of deeply literate composers who need not be lost and have much to offer” – Gramophone

“These performances make a strong case for the songs. Narucki’s warm and nuanced readings capture the moods effectively … Donald Berman is an attentive collaborator. Together they have created a fine program. There were moments when the symbiosis of words and music simply transported me to a higher plane. Love of life, the comfort and security that intimate love can bring, and finding joy wherever you are animates these songs. I was captivated by this program and hope these songs might become better known” – American Record Guide

“extraordinary (and extraordinarily understudied) composers … revelatory … intimate and profound”Women’s Song Forum

“beautiful, deeply moving new album … Susan is a consummate artist”The San Diego Union-Tribune

“written in a wide array of compositional styles, each composer has an uncommon sensitivity to the fusion of text and music, and exceptional skill in writing for the combination of voice and piano” – KPBS

“consummately expressive performers … extraordinarily well curated … one of the best recordings I have heard thus far in 2023” – Sequenza21

Susan Narucki’s devotion to this music is radiantly apparent. She’s in fine voice, and Donald Berman’s accompaniment is stellar. Together they make the perfect team for this music. This thoughtfully considered presentation is so enjoyable. Repeated listening only makes this excellent recording more enduring.” - Opera News (Critic’s Choice)

“Narucki’s warm and nuanced readings [that] capture the moods effectively … Donald Berman is an attentive collaborator … There were moments when the symbiosis of words and music simply transported me to a higher plane.” - American Record Guide


GRAMMY® Award-winning American soprano Susan Narucki, “one of the great practitioners of contemporary vocal music” (Opera News) presents This Island, a specially curated, unique set of 21 art songs written in the first half of the 20th century, chiefly by women and some receiving their world premiere recordings.

The catalyst for This Island was a line from a collection of letters by Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

“… If you could only be here with me so I could share with you the happiness of these great poems, they would let you realize what we all now need more urgently: that transience is not separation …”

The poems Rilke cites are by Belgian Symbolist Emile Verhaeren, whose poetry – Susan discovered – has been set to music by composers both familiar and virtually unknown, including Nadia Boulanger and her Paris Conservatoire teacher Raoul Pugno, Belgian Irène Fuerison, Dutch Henriette Bosmans and the mysterious Parisian composer Elizabeth Claisse. Susan rounds out the album with songs by American composer and educator Marion Bauer, who studied in Paris and met Boulanger and Pugno, and Dutch composer Henriette Bosmans whose music Susan was familiar with, bringing the project full circle.


1. Dit eiland (1947) (Adriaan Roland Holst) 2.20
2. In den regen (1947) (Adriaan Roland Holst) 5.35
3. Teeken den hemel in het zand der zee (1947) (J.W.F. Werumeus Buning) 3.41

ÉLISABETH CLAISSE* (fl. 1922–23)
4 Mélodies (1922–23) à Paul Le Flem
4. Issue (Yves Arnaud) 2.07
5. Complainte (Pierre de Ronsard) 2.06
6. Philosophie (Franz Toussaint, after Kheng-Tsin) 1.38
7. Les Mendiants (Émile Verhaeren) 4.10

IRÈNE FUERISON* (1875–1931)
Les Heures claires, Les Heures d’après-midi, Les Heures du soir Op.50 (1918)
(Émile Verhaeren)
8. I. Les Heures claires I: ‘Ô la splendeur de notre joie’ 3.52
9. II. Les Heures claires XX: ‘Dis-moi, ma simple et ma tranquille amie’ 3.40
10. III. Les Heures d’après-midi XXVII: ‘Ardeur des sens’ 3.52
11. IV. Les Heures d’après-midi XXIX: ‘Vous m’avez dit’ 2.47
12. V. Les Heures du soir XXI: ‘Avec mes vieilles mains’ 3.00
13. VI. Les Heures du soir XXVI: ‘Lorsque tu fermeras mes yeux’ 3.07

NADIA BOULANGER (1887–1979); RAOUL PUGNO (1852–1914)
from Les Heures claires (1909)
(Émile Verhaeren)
14. I. Le ciel en nuit s’est déplié… 3.05
15. III. Vous m’avez dit… 2.01
16. IV. Que tes yeux clairs, tes yeux d’été… 2.06
17. VI. Ta bonté 3.59

MARION BAUER* (1882–1955)
Four Poems Op. 16 (1924)
(John Gould Fletcher)
18. I. Through the upland meadows 4.34
19. II. I love the night 2.38
20. III. Midsummer Dreams 3.31
21. IV. In the bosom of the desert 5.24

Total duration: 69.19

*World-premiere recordings

Susan Narucki, soprano
Donald Berman, piano

Recorded: 3–5 March & 27–29 June 2022, Conrad Prebys Concert Hall,
UC San Diego Department of Music, San Diego
Producer: Judith Sherman · Engineer: Andrew Monsey
Editing assistant: Jeanne Velonis · Mastering: Jeanne Velonis and Judith Sherman
Publishers: ‘Forbidden Music Regained’ Project, a collaboration between Donemus Publishing,
the Netherlands Music Institute and the Leo Smit Foundation (Bosmans);
Éditions COMBRE (Claisse); Heugel & Cie (Boulanger / Pugno); G. Schirmer Inc. (Bauer)


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