Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

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COMPOSERS: Bordes,Brassens,Canteloube,Caplet,Chabrier,Chausson,Debussy,Faure,Ferré,Hahn,Honegger,Koechlin,Massenet,Saint-Saens,Schmitt,Sévérac,Szulc,Trenet,Varèse & Wieniawska
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine
WORKS: Songs by Bordes, Brassens, Canteloube, Caplet, Chabrier, Chausson, Debussy, Fauré, Ferré, Hahn, Honegger, Koechlin, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Schmitt, Severac, Szulc, Trenet, Varèse & Wieniawska
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Jérôme Ducros (piano), Nathalie Stutzmann (alto); Quatuor Ebène
CATALOGUE NO: 2564616693

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This is a beautifully conceived, exquisitely presented and wonderfully sung collection. You may not like it. As with Opium, Philippe Jaroussky’s previous disc of mélodies, it is initially disconcerting to hear this repertoire sung by a countertenor. The rewards are extensive, though, for he has an extraordinary voice and this is a remarkable exploration of French composers influenced by the poet Paul Verlaine. There are familiar names, such as Debussy and Fauré, but also settings by figures rarely encountered today such as Charles Bordes, Georges Brassens and Josef Zygmunt Szulc. Some poems, such as La lune blanche, can be heard in three or four different settings, with the sheer diversity of compositional approaches ensuring that there is no sense of repetition.

Whether entwined with Nathalie Stutzmann’s voice in the gentle lilting of Massenet’s Revons, c’est l’heure, brooding in Varèse’s Un grand sommeil noir, clowning in Poldowski’s Columbine or enjoying the amiability of Charles Trenet’s Verlaine, Jaroussky captures the stylistic essence of each song with panache. Moreover, every syllable of every word is clear, enabling a full appreciation of this most musical of poets. Jérôme Ducros is a sublime partner, the accompaniments always feeling natural and deceptively effortless. Ducros has written several new transcriptions, including Debussy’s Fete galantes I, that enable the Quatuor Ebène to join the fun, the fragile luminescence of Fauré’s La lune blanche being especially spellbinding. Sumptuously presented, with an intelligent booklet essay, this set will delight any curious explorer of mélodies.

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Christopher Dingle