Fauré • Debussy • Marx • Strauss • Rachmaninoff

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COMPOSERS: Debussy,Faure,Marx,Rachmaninoff,Strauss
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Night Songs
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Renée Fleming (soprano); Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 467 697-2

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Renée Fleming and Jean-Yves Thibaudet originally intended this collaboration to focus on the moon, but finding insufficient variety in the available material, broadened their remit to take in the night in all its aspects – dwelling especially on the period either side of 1900 when the unconscious mind was beginning to be explored. If the results still don’t sound particularly diverse it is perhaps because of Fleming’s strong personality, which stamps everything as her own. Words are not always crystal clear: despite the acknowledged assistance of three language coaches, it is not very easy, given any ten-second chunk from the disc, to know immediately in what language Fleming is singing. But so overwhelmingly beautiful is her voice that it really doesn’t seem to matter. She amply demonstrates here her customary sureness, as secure in the heights as the depths of register, and surrounds all she does with a radiant richness. Her glowing reading of Fauré’s ‘Après un rêve’ is one example among many where the voice is so laden with nuanced emotion that words – and they are printed in the booklet should you need to know what they are – become not just superfluous, but almost an irrelevance.

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Christopher Wood