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Debussy – Mélodies (3 CD, APE)

Debussy - Mélodies (3 CD, APE)

Debussy - Mélodies (3 CD, APE)

Audio CD
SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 3
Format: APE (tracks)
Label: EMI Classics
Size: 571 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Disc: 1
01. Nuit d’étoiles (‘Nuit d’étoiles, sous tes voiles’), song for voice & piano, L. 4
02. Fleur des blés (‘Le long des blés que la brise fait onduler’), song for voice & piano, L. 7
03. Beau soir (‘Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivières sont roses’), song for voice & piano, L. 6
04. Mandoline (‘Les donneurs de sérénades’), song for voice & piano, L. 29
05. La belle au bois dormant (‘Des trous à son pourpoint vermeil’), song for voice & piano, L. 74
06. Romance (‘Voici que le printemps, ce fil léger d’avril’), song for voice & piano, L. 52
07. Paysage sentimental (‘Le ciel d’hiver si doux, si triste, si dormant’), song for voice & piano, L. 45
08. Zéphyr (Triolet à Phillis) (‘Si j’étais le zéphyr ailé’), song for voice & piano, L. 12
09. Rondeau (‘Fut-il jamais douceur de coeur pareille’), song for voice & piano, L. 30
10. Pantomime (‘Pierrot qui n’a rien d’un Clitandre’), song for voice & piano, L. 31
11. Clair de lune (‘Votre âme est un paysage choisi’), song for voice & piano, L. 32
12. Pierrot (‘Le bon Pierrot que la foule contemple’), song for voice & piano, L. 15
13. Apparition (‘La lune s’attristait’), song for voice & piano, L. 53
14. Rondel chinois (‘Sur le lac bordé d’azalée’), song for voice & piano, L. 17
15. Aimons nous et dormons (‘Aimons nous et dormons, sans songer au reste du monde’), song for voice & piano, L. 16
16. Jane (‘Je pâlis et tombe en langueur’), song for voice & piano, L. 19
17. En sourdine (‘Calmes dans le demi-jour’), song for voice & piano, L. 28 (first version)
18. Romances (2), songs for voice & piano, L. 79: Romance
19. Romances (2), songs for voice & piano, L. 79: Les Cloches
20. Les Angélus (‘Cloches chrétiennes pour les matines’), song for voice & piano, L. 76
21. Dans le jardin (‘Je regardais dans le jardin’), song for voice & piano, L. 78
22. Mélodies (3), song collection for voice & piano, L. 81: La Mer est plus belle
23. Mélodies (3), song collection for voice & piano, L. 81: Le Son du cor s’afflige
24. Mélodies (3), song collection for voice & piano, L. 81: L’Échelonnement des haies
25. Fêtes galantes (3), song cycle for voice & piano, Set I, L. 80: I. En sourdine
26. Fêtes galantes (3), song cycle for voice & piano, Set I, L. 80: II. Fantoches
27. Fêtes galantes (3), song cycle for voice & piano, Set I, L. 80: III. Clair de lune

Disc: 2
01. Poèmes (5) de Baudelaire, song collection for voice & piano, L. 64: I. Le Balcon
02. Poèmes (5) de Baudelaire, song collection for voice & piano, L. 64: II. Harmonie du soir
03. Poèmes (5) de Baudelaire, song collection for voice & piano, L. 64: III. Le Jet d’eau
04. Poèmes (5) de Baudelaire, song collection for voice & piano, L. 64: IV. Recueillement (Méditation)
05. Poèmes (5) de Baudelaire, song collection for voice & piano, L. 64: V. La Mort des amants
06. Proses lyriques (4), song collection for voice & piano, L. 84: I. De Rêve
07. Proses lyriques (4), song collection for voice & piano, L. 84: II. De Grève
08. Proses lyriques (4), song collection for voice & piano, L. 84: III. De Fleurs
09. Proses lyriques (4), song collection for voice & piano, L. 84: IV. De Soir
10. Ariettes oubliées (6), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 60: I. C’est l’extase
11. Ariettes oubliées (6), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 60: II. Il pleure dans mon cœur
12. Ariettes oubliées (6), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 60: III. L’Ombre des arbres dans la rivière
13. Ariettes oubliées (6), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 60: IV. Paysages belges – Chevaux de bois
14. Ariettes oubliées (6), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 60: V. Aquarelle No. 1 Green
15. Ariettes oubliées (6), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 60: VI. Aquarelle No. 2 Spleen

Disc: 3
01. Chansons de Bilitis (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 90: I. La Flûte de Pan
02. Chansons de Bilitis (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 90: II. La Chevelure
03. Chansons de Bilitis (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 90: III. Le Tombeau des Naïades
04. Fêtes galantes (3), song cycle for voice & piano, Set II, L. 104: I. Les ingénus
05. Fêtes galantes (3), song cycle for voice & piano, Set II, L. 104: II. Le Faune
06. Fêtes galantes (3), song cycle for voice & piano, Set II, L. 104: III. Colloque sentimental
07. Chansons de France (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 102: I. Rondel. Le Temps a laissié son manteau
08. Chansons de France (3), song cycle for voice & piano, L. 102: II. Rondel. Pour ce que plaisance est morte
09. Le promenoir des deux amants, song cycle for voice & piano, L.118: I. Auprès de cette grotte sombre
10. Le promenoir des deux amants, song cycle for voice & piano, L.118: II. Crois mon conseil, chère Climène
11. Le promenoir des deux amants, song cycle for voice & piano, L.118: III. Je tremble en voyant ton visage
12. Ballades de François Villon (3), song cycle for voice & piano (or orchestra), L.119: I. Ballade de Villon à s’amye
13. Ballades de François Villon (3), song cycle for voice & piano (or orchestra), L.119: II. Ballade que Villon feit à la requeste de sa
14. Ballades de François Villon (3), song cycle for voice & piano (or orchestra), L.119: III. Ballade des femmes de Paris
15. Poèmes (3) de Mallarmé, song collection for voice & piano, L. 127: I. Soupir
16. Poèmes (3) de Mallarmé, song collection for voice & piano, L. 127: II. Placet futile
17. Poèmes (3) de Mallarmé, song collection for voice & piano, L. 127: III. Éventail
18. Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison, for voice & piano, L. 139

Apart from flutter and bluster, this is divinely beautiful.

This 3CD recording presents a very substantial part of Debussy’s vocal works. It’s full of the most superb and mysterious songs you’ll ever hear. Debussy had such a marvellously unique harmonic approach, and it gives the impression of mist and mystery, of the insubstantial and unearthly. This makes those songs which feature characters of the Italian commedia d’arte (Harlequin, Pierrot, Columbine, etc.) so astonishing, and his songs of the beauties of the night and the moon so very beautiful.

The songs are almost entirely of a very high standard, and show how well Debussy knew the voice. (In my opinion, he particularly knew the virtues of the typical light high French soprano voice, and I can certainly attest that the majority of his songs lie beautifully and very comfortably in the soprano coloratura voice.) Occasionally there’s a song that isn’t of that typical high standard (the peculiar but very early song “Rondel chinois” comes to mind – it’s a lovely thing to sing, but it’s not a song of any distinction), but most of these are perfect gems.

The singing on this set varies a little. On the plus side is the ever-beautiful Elly Ameling, who had perhaps the most limpidly beautiful light lyrical soprano voice the world has ever heard; the amazing Frederica von Stade, who sings divinely; Michele Command, whose more robust soprano voice is often stunning; the experienced baritone Gérard Souzay (I have to admit I do not like his voice myself – his timbre and approach are not to my taste – but he is certainly very experienced in this genre and his French is so beautiful to listen to)… and on the not-so-plus side (for me, anyway) is the coloratura soprano of Mady Mesplé. I know there are devoted fans of Ms Mesplé – I must admit I am not one of them. While I admire the glorious ease of her top notes, and the young and attractive sound of the voice’s natural timbre, I LOATHE what is to me an unbearable fluttering vibrato that ruins her singing. It sounds extraordinarily under-supported and very uncomfortable – but I also admit that Ms Mesplé clearly has a deep feeling for these mélodies. She certainly knows how to phrase – and certainly the range of her voice is remarkable. If only that twitter could be magicked away… then I’d probably be very satisfied with her singing.

Overall, then, this set is a charming and well-chosen array of almost all of Debussy’s vocal output. It is not complete, though. I would recommend supplementing this delightful 3CD set with the recording of Debussy songs by Sandrine Piau, the somewhat bland but extremely pretty recording of Debussy’s early songs by Gillian Keith, and the recording of Debussy songs sung by Anne-Marie Rodde (again, so very pretty, and it is one of the few recordings to include Debussy’s duet “Chanson espagnole” – which is otherwise represented quite hideously on a recording by a tenor and baritone).

There’s also some amazingly beautiful singing of Debussy songs on an album by Christine Oelze (her timbre reminds me so much of Ameling’s – just lovely, and what excellent French!).

I have not listened to Dawn Upshaw’s recording of Debussy songs, as she is not one of my favourite singers, but given that I’ve enjoyed her French performances in the past, I do plan to add her recording entitled “Forgotten Songs” to my collection.

And with all of that lot, you, the Debussy collector, will have a truly wonderful collection of Debussy’s songs to hand!

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