Debussy, Mozart

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Mozart
WORKS: Fêtes galantes; Ariettes oubliées
PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), András Schiff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 461 899-2
There’s no sweeter serenade for the month of May than Mozart’s ‘Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge’ from the voice of Juliane Banse and the fingers of András Schiff. Theirs is an inspired and inspiring partnership – as is that of Mozart and Debussy in a recital whose imaginative conception and loving care in production bears all the marks of ECM at its best.


The link between the composers is made in two songs by Mozart which, unbeknown to him, were unofficially to inaugurate the French mélodie in recital: ‘Dans un bois solitaire’ and ‘Oiseaux, si tous les ans’. Banse sings them with the disarming charm with which Mozart hoped to woo his Parisian audiences, and Schiff’s piano-playing provides delightful period-piece enamelling.


Debussy and Verlaine invariably meet in the regions of shadow and half-light – exactly where Banse’s soprano comes into its own. The strengths of this recital are to be found in the first book of the Fêtes galantes, with sound evoking silence in Banse’s dusky middle to low register; and in the Ariettes oubliées, with the hushed underside of her voice tuned intimately to the shifting resonance of Schiff’s fingers. Its weakness lies only where Banse’s higher register becomes fleetingly over-stretched as Pierrot and as Mallarmé’s Apparition. Hilary Finch