Saint-Saëns: Mélodies

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Saint-Saens
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Mélodies
PERFORMER: François Le Roux (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66856

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The songs of Saint-Saëns are truly unknown territory. Johnson provides context and clarity for each of Saint-Saëns’s mélodies in an extensively researched and annotated booklet. He also contributes powerful, vibrant and exquisitely elegant musical accompaniments. Le Roux is a distinguished baritone with masterly phrasing, great character and a warm and engaging range of sound and dynamic quality. He has an occasional idiosyncratic habit of ‘bending’ the sound and shape of certain words and phrases for extra emphasis which might be unusual to some listeners. Musical jewels surface with delightful consistency in this 27-song recital. The Mélodies persanes are intensely dramatic and eloquently delivered by both artists. From Saint-Saëns’s early Hugo settings through those of Lahor to one of Verlaine, this is an absorbing and revelatory disc.

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Elise McDougall