Milhaud, Roussel, Satie, Honegger, Ravel, Debussy, etc

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy,etc,Honegger,Milhaud,Ravel,Roussel,Satie
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Hommage Ë Jane Bathori
WORKS: Songs
PERFORMER: Dawn Upshaw (soprano), Jérôme Ducros (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-27329-2
Jane Bathori was a singer active around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries who forsook the demands of a conventional operatic career and devoted herself instead to the music of her own time. She frequently accompanied herself in songs written expressly for her by composers such as those featured on this disc, which was recorded live (with applause) in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées last year. The booklet notes gush unnecessarily about Upshaw’s ability, overstating the case. Like many, I find the voice limited not just in power but in the tonal and hence emotional variety it offers. Rich it is not. Still, the repertoire is intriguing. Upshaw is best in the more skittish songs, like the Satie Trois mélodies or Ravel’s endearing Histoires naturelles. But Milhaud’s atmospheric, dark lullaby, ‘Chant de nourrice’ (from the Poèmes juifs), his poignantly plain ‘L’abandon’ (from Quatre poèmes de Léo Latil), and Debussy’s aromatic three songs Le promenoir des deux amants demand a ripeness of tone that Upshaw cannot quite summon, and in her encore, Dutilleux’s homage to Poulenc, ‘San Francisco Night’ (its first recording), the slightly brittle edge of her voice compromises her nevertheless thoughtful reading. Her following is vast, however, and they will share none of my quibbles, while at the piano the ever subtle Jérôme Ducros presents her in the best possible light. Stephen Pettitt