Fauré: Mélodies

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Timpani
WORKS: Mélodies, Opp. 16, 51, 58, 76, 83, 85, 87, 92 & 94
PERFORMER: Yann Beuron (tenor), Billy Eidi (piano)

By starting their series of Fauré songs with those from Hamelle’s third volume rather than the first, Yann Beuron and Billy Eidi have unambiguously made a bid for Fauré as a major composer whose mélodies had a reach and influence far beyond the fashionable salons. Add to this the exceptional skills of both artists, and we have here a disc of unimpeachable value – I would say a reference point for all future recordings of this repertoire.
In underlining the importance of the piano parts in these later songs, the engineers have perhaps gone a little too far in the early tracks, where the balance seems slightly piano-heavy. But it appears to right itself quite soon and we are then treated to a consummate partnership.
I don’t know which is the more impressive, the treatment of individual words and phrases (in ‘Madrigal’ Beuron gives ironical weight to the word ‘charité’, adding to it further for ‘fierté’) or the shaping of whole songs (on this front ‘C’est l’extase’ is particularly satisfying).
Certainly Fauré the charmer is not absent, and the artists can do lightness wonderfully well, helped by Beuron’s superb mezza voce. But there’s drama too. ‘Prison’ reminded me of Samson’s ‘total eclipse, without all hope of day’.
I would guess that Beuron has listened to Gérard Souzay (how not?) and, while learning from him, is careful not to become mannered as that great singer tended to in his later years. With one tiny exception (does the last chord of ‘Larmes’ have a firm root?) Eidi’s playing is beyond praise. A must for all lovers of French song. Roger Nichols