WORKS: Masques et bergamasques; Dolly Suite; Shylock; Pelléas et Mélisande; Berceuse
PERFORMER: Lynda Russell (soprano), Michael Healy (violin)RTE Sinfonietta/John Georgiadis
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553360
Fauré’s orchestral music has often suffered because of the high reputation of his songs and chamber works – it is frequently said that his orchestral writing did not match up to their standard. But the exquisite and atmospheric miniatures that make up the Mozartian Masques et bergamasques and the incidental music for Pelléas et Mélisande prove that this is not so. These works are justifiably celebrated: Fauré’s lightness of touch and economy of means ensures that they feel ever fresh. The Shylock suite is less well known; if less consistent than the other two, it still contains beautiful moments and Lynda Russell’s pure, light voice suits the style very well (though some infelicities of balance mean that at times she is slightly submerged by the orchestra). The Dolly Suite remains more successful as a piano duet; and here Georgiadis commits the unforgivable sin of succumbing to schmaltz. Nothing suits Fauré less well than schmaltz. Still, like so many Naxos discs, this one represents excellent value: nearly 75 minutes of superb music decently played at bargain price.