Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor), Huw Montague Rendall (baritone), William Thomas (bass), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Signum Classics SIGCD715 60:04 mins
Just 16 songs comprise the surviving output in the genre of Henri Duparc, whose extreme self-criticism led him to destroy much of his music; yet they form a body of work of the highest quality, fitting easily onto a single disc.
Four singers are involved, together with expert collaborative pianist Malcolm Martineau.
Sarah Connolly takes the lion’s share with seven songs, while Nicky Spence together with the younger William Thomas and Huw Montague Rendall perform three each: a high standard is attained by all participants.
Connolly is – as always – very much inside her material, vividly portraying the character in one of the finest settings of the Romance de Mignon: her quiet intensity and range of tonal colour equally encompass the nostalgia and loss conveyed in ‘Au pays où se fait la guerre’.
Spence, too, provides an introverted, inner quality in his thoughtful account of ‘Soupir’, with its magically withdrawn final note, fielding an appealing mezza voce with charm and delicacy in ‘Sérénade florentine’.
Both rising stars of the UK vocal firmament, Thomas and Montague Rendall earn their places alongside fully established performers: Thomas’s fine bass is controlled yet spirited in ‘Le galop’ and again both considered yet forthright in his account of the Poe-like ‘La vague et la cloche’.
His baritone colleague makes a considerable impression with his troubled yet dynamic account of ‘Le manoir de Rosamonde’ – infinitely sad at the close – and proves imaginative in his exploration of ‘Lamento’ and in the still, ineffably interior quality of ‘Phydilé’.