COMPOSERS: Bouchot,Britten,Chausson,Faure,Mendelssohn,Poulenc & R Strauss
WORKS: Songs by Bouchot, Britten, Chausson, Fauré, Mendelssohn, Poulenc & R Strauss
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano), Susan Manoff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Naïve V 5250
This celebration of dreams and childhood is, on the purely sensuous level, an unending delight. Piau’s sweet, unforced tone, her bright top notes perfectly integrated with her medium and her exemplary diction combine to make this in many ways yet another example of how well Baroque vocal technique translates into the later song repertoire.
That said, not everything is beyond criticism. Her habit of swelling then fading on long notes (the Baroque messa di voce) can become victim to the law of diminishing returns. In the three Fauré songs she and her sensitive accompanist are obviously determined to avoid anything slushy or vulgarly interventionist. Hurrah to that. But at times I would like a little more in the way of articulating the structure: in Clair de lune Fauré’s change of pedaling at ‘Au calme clair de lune’ needs observing, as does the added ‘grands’ in the last line. Also Les berceaux at this fast tempo loses much of its emotional power. However, the three Mendelssohn songs are a splendid rebuff to those who ignore this side of his output, R Strauss’s Morgen is wonderfully dreamlike, and the Britten folksongs are delivered with great feeling and in impeccable English. Roger Nichols