Fauré: 25 Mélodies

'The true limitation lies in Jared Schwartz’s voice itself'

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COMPOSERS: Gabriel Fauré
LABELS: Toccata Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Faure: Songs for Bass and Piano
WORKS: 25 Mélodies
PERFORMER: Jared Schwartz (bass), Roy Howat (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: TOCC 0268

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This disc is based on a new, critical edition of Fauré’s songs made by Roy Howat (who also plays the piano accompaniments, as well as providing the liner notes) and Emily Kilpatrick, which has cleared up hundreds of errors and offers optional variants from manuscripts and other early sources. The release has a value on these grounds alone. Howat’s playing is less remarkable; compared to the best performers of a much recorded repertoire, he can be prosaic. His instrument, a Bösendorfer, is also backwardly recorded.

Though unusual, there’s no reason why a bass should not perform Fauré’s songs, even if most of the items here have had to be transposed further down than any previously published editions. The true limitation lies in Jared Schwartz’s voice itself, which is grainy, gravelly and limited in colour; he also has a tendency to sing just wide of the note – usually beneath it – while his French lacks the natural flavour of a native-speaking interpreter. It’s good, though, to have two well known songs – Sérénade toscane and Après un rêve – delivered in the Tuscan dialect Fauré offered as a published alternative to French, apparently for the first time on disc.

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George Hall