Mélodies et Chansons
Julia Sophie Wagner (soprano), Steffen Schleiermacher (piano)
MDG MDG6132219 52:45 mins
A master of self-effacing, yet curiously beguiling piano miniatures redolent of Satie in winsomely esoteric mood, Federico Mompou also wrote songs that generally are equally undemonstrative. This welcome new selection from soprano Julia Sophie Wagner and pianist Steffen Schleiermacher spans the composer’s output, unusually presenting the songs’ French versions. Opening with his final cycle, Cinq mélodies of 1973, it is apparent Mompou retained the same spirit as the Quatre mélodies of nearly 50 years earlier, essentially residing in the walled garden of Fauré’s later years. Wagner floats ethereally in conveying the mesmerising sustained melancholy of ‘Le vin perdu’ from the later cycle or ‘L’Incertitude’ from the earlier one.
The cycle Combat du rêve is equally enrapturing while the children’s counting rhymes of Huit Comptines have an artlessness that recalls Poulenc at his most innocently playful. The joyous Chanson de la foire and surprisingly belligerent Psalm and Ave Maria provide contrast. It is a pity that, despite Mompou carefully ensuring the texts are paramount, they can often only be discerned with the booklet to hand. Despite this, Wagner captures Mompou’s musical spirit well and Schleiermacher’s accompaniments, on a gorgeous 1901 Steinway, are finely judged throughout.