Fauré • Ravel • Chausson • Martin • Delage • Saint-Saens • Poulenc

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COMPOSERS: Chausson,Delage,Faure,Martin,Poulenc,Ravel,Saint-Sa‘ns
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: La Bonne Chanson
WORKS: La bonne chanson; Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé; Chanson perpétuelle; Trois chants de Noël; Quatre poèmes hindous; Une flûte invisible; Rapsodie nègre
PERFORMER: Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Bengt Forsberg (piano), and chamber ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: 447 752-2


Given Anne Sofie von Otter’s fascination with the changing flavours and scents of language, and with blending her light mezzo-soprano into a varied palette of instrumental timbres, it had to be only a matter of time before she recorded a recital of French mélodies with chamber ensemble. Her culminating performance, with pianist Bengt Forsberg and a string quintet of her compatriots, of the song cycle by Fauré which gives this disc its name, is certainly one of the most vibrantly alive and persuasive in the catalogue. Here, indeed, is Verlaine’s ‘L’heure exquise’. The recital starts with Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, in which a long, suede-soft vocal line is sustained over the rustling of string quartet, piccolo and bass clarinet. And then Von Otter’s voice blossoms into Chausson’s Chanson perpétuelle, every second passionately engaged, and animated by Bengt Forsberg’s sentient piano-playing. Andreas Alin’s flute dances its way through the winsome Trois chants de Noël by Frank Martin, haunts Saint-Saëns’s Une flûte invisible and is joined by harp, cello-as-sitar, cor anglais, bass clarinet and string quartet for Quatres poèmes hindous, in which von Otter’s mezzo delights in the essentially Gallic sensibility of these seductive settings by Ravel’s pupil Maurice Delage.


Hilary Finch