Fauré’s Complete Songs, Vol. 2

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LABELS: Signum
WORKS: The complete songs, Vol. 2: La chanson d’Eve; Two Duets, Op. 10; Three Songs, Op. 85; Two Songs, Op. 87; Rêve d’amour; L’aurore; Aubade etc
PERFORMER: Lorna Anderson, Janis Kelly (soprano), Sarah Connolly, Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Ben Johnson (tenor), Nigel Cliffe, Thomas Oliemans (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)


Another lovely evening in an imaginary salon. Like the first instalment of this complete survey of Fauré’s songs curated by Malcolm Martineau, a plurality of voices evokes a gathering of friends taking turns. Opening with an exquisitely serene Rêve d’amour from John Chest, the songs are generally presented in chronological order. Whereas Ben Johnson, Nigel Cliffe and Iestyn Davies each have just a single offering on this occasion, the AubadeBarcarolleand Le plus doux chemin respectively, Thomas Oliemans makes his first contributions to the series with, among others, a richly toned 

Shylock, Op. 57 and carefully nuanced performance of the three Op. 85 songs.

At the heart of the disc, Lorna Anderson’s stillness in Le secretis utterly entrancing, and Janis Kelly glides effortlessly in Le pays des rêves. Unfortunately their voices do not always fit together comfortably in the challenging early duet of Tarentelle. The inclusion of some of the recently discovered Vocalises Fauré wrote while director of the Paris Conservatoire distinguishes this from other cycles. Nonetheless, while Ann Murray floats enchantingly through No. 7, No. 22 is decidedly prosaic even in Anderson’s stylish performance.

Having metaphorically sat silently through these various delights, Sarah Connolly joins Martineau for the final third of the disc in La chanson d’Eve. It is certainly worth the wait, for Connolly is at her best, capturing the controlled, yet rapturous passion of this achingly beautiful cycle. Martineau is, as ever, an ideal pianistic host for all his companions, but listeners should supply their own wine. 

Christopher Dingle