Secrets, with Marianne Crebassa

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy,Duparc,Faure,Ravel,Say
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Secrets
WORKS: Debussy: Mélodies de Verlaine; Chansons de Bilitis; Duparc: Mélodies; Fauré: Mirages; Ravel: Shéhérazade; Vocalise-étude en forme de Habanera; Say: Gezi Park 3
PERFORMER: Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano), Bernhard Krabatsch (flute), Fazil Say (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 9029576897

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‘Secrets’ is an enticing title. Indeed, how can one resist the combination of Marianne Crebassa’s attractive voice and a selection of French song, especially Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis and three Verlaine songs? As for Ravel’s Shéhérazade, she floats so effortlessly, so evocatively that it seems possible to smell and touch this faux-Asia, aided by flautist Bernhard Krabatsch in ‘La Flûte enchantée’.

There is an insistent earnestness here that runs from Crebassa’s heartfelt, if unenlightening, booklet note, through to Gezi Park 3, Fazil Say’s intense response to the Turkish government’s brutal repression of a protest. This wordless lament is effective in its own terms, and Say’s love of French textures is apparent, though it has essentially made its point by about half-way through.

It is tempting to say the same of the disc in general. Each individual performance is truly outstanding, with the nuances of Crebassa’s rich, utterly idiomatic voice subtly matched by Say’s enchantingly veiled piano tone. Yet the whole adds up to less than the sum of the admirable parts. Crebassa is profoundly touching in Fauré’s cycle Mirages, but follows this interior music with a sequence of especially mournful Duparc songs (‘Lamento’‘Elegie’‘Chanson triste’). Ultimately, there is too little light amidst the angst-ridden shade and, after so much dreamy musing, Crebassa’s spell weakens. 

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Christopher Dingle