WORKS: Mélodies de jeunesse; Ariettes oubliées; Proses lyriques; Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano)Jos van Immerseel (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 4932
After the spring’s generous burgeoning of new Debussy releases comes a high-summer efflorescence: this new recital of mélodies surpasses them all in its mastery of style, and in the keen imaginative engagement of all three participants.
Three – because, in this case, the piano is very much a character too. The excellent Jos van Immerseel plays an 1897 Érard, favoured as an accompanist’s instrument in Debussy’s time. And it’s easy to hear why: its action makes for exceptional subtlety and variety of voicing. Match this with the breath control and refined artistry of Sandrine Piau (she of Les Arts Florissants, and Mozartian of the Lyon Opera), and Debussy is realised to near perfection.
One of his earliest songs, the unpublished ‘Papillons’, becomes, in Immerseel’s fingers, a palpable series of wing-beats, carrying Piau’s long, gently elided line of melodic flight. And the piano can just as easily take on the woody timbres of musical automata for the carousel of ‘Chevaux de bois’. This, and ‘Il pleure dans mon coeur’, with a strange, white area of Piau’s soprano confessing ‘ce deuil est sans raison’, are outstanding performances within Verlaine’s Ariettes oubliées.
Piau and Immerseel give magnificently large-scale, imaginatively daring performances of the Proses lyriques, and are sensitive to every passing image of the Mallarmé settings.