ALBUM TITLE: Faure Songs Vol 2
PERFORMER: Geraldine McGreevy, Jennifer Smith, Felicity Lott, Stella Doufexis, John Mark Ainsley, Jean Paul Fouchecourt, Christopher Maltman, Stephen Varcoe, Graham Johnson
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67334
Graham Johnson’s second selection from the collected songs of Fauré focuses on landscape, though the theme of ‘le paysage choisi’ is a good deal vaguer than the watery connections that held the first CD together. But the chronological placement of the songs within the programme highlights the composer’s development and the quality and variety of Fauré’s achievement shine through.
As well as providing his usual comprehensives notes, Johnson is as ever a perceptive accompanist, though occasionally there is a lack of momentum and ‘Lydia’ is simply too slow.
There’s a high standard of singing throughout, and good attention to the texts, both as sound and as meaning, from Johnson’s eight chosen soloists. Geraldine McGreevy offers delicacy, shape and direction, combined with an intelligent variety of tone, and Christopher Maltman’s more forthright approach gives impetus to ‘Le voyageur’ and ‘Prison’. Though her tone is a touch mature, Jennifer Smith is able to draw on the warm colours of her voice for the late cycle Le jardin clos (1914), a sombre, understated piece that emphasises the oblique, unpredictable harmony of the composer’s final period. In terms of recording I could do with a touch more piano and a shade more space around the sound. George Hall