Collection: Mélodies Francaises

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chabrier,Duparc,Faure,Ravel
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Chanson perpetuelle; Plaisir d’amour; Crépuscule; Chanson pour Jeanne
PERFORMER: Barbara Hendricks (soprano), Michel Dalberto (piano); Cherubini Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55388 2

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Barbara Hendricks has already recorded several beguiling programmes of Ravel, Duparc, Fauré and Chabrier, but this latest compilation takes us to the very heart of the French mélodie: to its reveries, its orientalism and, most eloquently in the bloom of Hendricks’s soprano, to its calme and its volupté.

She shows us, too, the blood that flows in some of its lesser-explored arteries: in Chausson’s ‘Chanson perpetuelle’, with the Cherubini Quartet revealing its dark luminosity; and in Alfred Bachelet’s ardent and operatic ‘Chère nuit’. After these, Hendricks dares, disarmingly, to end with a poignant yet no-nonsense performance of ‘Plaisir d’amour’.

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On the way, there is much else to enjoy. I particularly relished the simplicity and sophistication of pacing of her Gounod ‘Sérénade’, the whimsical and tender converse of voice and piano in Chabrier’s ‘Chanson pour Jeanne’; the fine thread of vowel line, so rarely adequately spun for Massenet, in his ‘Crépuscule’; and the way in which both Hendricks and Dalberto tune in to Reynaldo Hahn’s intimacy of melodic eloquence. Hilary Finch