Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Ouvre son coeur. CHABRIER L'île heureuse. Chanson pour Jeanne. CHAUSSON Le Colibri. DEBUSSY Rêverie. Suite bergamasque - Clair de lune. Danse (Tarantelle styrienne). Préludes, Book 1 - La fille aux cheveux de lin. DELIBES Regrets!. Départ. DUPONT Mandoline. FAURE Impromptu No. 2 in F minor, Op. 31. FRANCK Nocturne. GOUNOD Où voulez-vous aller?. Viens, les gazons sont verts. PALADILHE Psyché. SAINT-SAENS La Cloche. SATIE Trois Gymnopédies.
Martyn Hill (tenor); Graham Johnson, Albert Ferber (pianos).
Meridian CDE84417 [ADD] [73'28]

Francophiles rejoice - Christmas has come early!. This is a gem of a CD. Meridian has raided its vaults for a delightful selection of French song. In his booklet notes, Graham Johnson (whose scholarly skills in this respect for the Hyperion Schubert Edition have been much praised) expertly traces the birth of the Mélodie. His accompaniments reveal a similar measure of understanding.

Martyn Hill has a lightish, flexible tenor. His is a singer with a wide repertoire ranging from baroque through to Shostakovich, Virgil Thomson and Carter. He was Johnson's chosen singer for the Schöne Müllerin in the aforementioned Schubert series (CDJ33010). Hill responds acutely to the changing mood of the songs. Gounod's peaceful Où voulez-vous aller? sits next to the pungent chromaticism of Franck's Nocturne, for example.

Many songs are revelatory. Chabrier's L'île heureuse is Spring-fresh, and his Chanson pour Jeanne is unbelievably tender. Emile Paladilhe's Psyché is delicate, almost whispered, and Gabriel Dupont's Mandoline is spirited and charming. Delibes also contributes two winners: Regrets and the interestingly-textures Départ.

Albert Ferber's solo contributions provide perfect interludes (including Debussy's fascinating Danse (Tarantelle stryrienne) and a satisfying postlude: the Trois Gymnopédies, given all the delicacy in the world and providing a tremendously relaxing end to the recital.

A very rewarding disc which should provide much pleasure. My only reservation is that I felt the sound needed a little more body.


Colin Clarke

See also review by Peter G Woolf

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