Collection: Opium

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Caplet,Chaminade,Chausson,Debussy,Dukas,Dupont & D’Indy,Faure,Franck,Hahn,Lekeu,Massenet,Saint-Saens
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Mélodies by Hahn, Chaminade, Massenet, Fauré, Chausson, Caplet, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Dukas, Lekeu, Franck, Dupont & D’Indy
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Renaud Capuçon (violin), Gautier Capuçon (cello), Jérôme Ducros (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 216 6212


Philippe Jaroussky has a wide pitch range and absolute control throughout, with no tenseness at the top or hooting at the bottom, and his floated high notes are ravishing. Jérôme Ducros’s accompanying is some of the best I have heard. The selection, from the songs of 13 composers, is excellent, varied in both tempo and temper.

Moreover, three of the songs come with instrumental additions from cello, flute and violin. So for those who relish the French mélodie merely as an opportunity for sensuous enjoyment, this disc must rate highly.

Jaroussky says he has ‘tried to avoid any affectation or “over-interpretation”’ and that he has ‘deliberately chosen a pronunciation that corresponds as closely as possible to the way in which the words are pronounced today’ – both aims entirely laudable.


But for me it was the arrival of Renaud Capuçon’s violin that crystallized my feeling of dissatisfaction. Jaroussky’s voice simply does not have the range of colours or dynamics to hold a one-hour recital in this repertoire; and too many words, however pronounced, are hard to hear in the upper part of the voice. A pity, because the disc is obviously the fruit of much intelligent thought. Roger Nichols