Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chausson,Debussy,Koechlin and Schoenberg,R Strauss,Zemlinsky
WORKS: Songs by Chausson, R Strauss, Debussy, Zemlinsky, Koechlin and Schoenberg
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano), Susan Manoff (piano)


Admirers of Sandrine Piau, of which there should be legions, will need little encouragement to acquire this disc, a collection of ‘music that suffused my whole adolescence and that has never left me’.

The result is a curious, but wonderfully effective mixture of mélodies and Lieder, alternating Chausson, Debussy and Koechlin with Richard Strauss, Zemlinsky and Schoenberg. The Lieder are the revelation, her pedigree in Bach notwithstanding.

Skittish in ‘Mohnblumen’ from Strauss’s Mädchenblumen, bracingly determined in Zemlinsky’s ‘Liebe und Fruhling’ and giving voice to the passionate beauty of Schoenberg’s Four Songs Op. 2, Piau’s radiant tone, renowned clarity of diction and range of sensuous emotion make this a heavenly experience.

She is supported delectably by Susan Manoff, and apart from the piano occasionally being a touch distant the recording manages to have both warmth and transparency.

Spitting drama is best sought elsewhere, but there is certainly no lack of atmosphere, from a heart-rendingly languorous account of Chausson’s ‘Le colibri’ to the fond melancholy of Debussy’s Romance. Now will someone please get her to sing Mélisande?


Christopher Dingle