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alternatively Crotchet


Barbara Hendricks - Mélodies
CD 1:
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845–1924)
1. Après un rêve, Op. 7 No. 1 [2:12]
2. Clair de lune, Op. 46 No. 2 [2:57]
3. Mandoline, Op. 58 No. 1 [1:43]
4. Prison, Op. 83 No. 1 [2:17]
5. Notre amour, Op. 23 No. 2 [1:47]
6. Automne, Op. 18 No. 3 [2:53]
7. Le Secret, Op. 23 No. 3 [2:15]
Deux Mélodies, Op. 27:
8. Chanson d’amour [2:05]
9. La Fée aux chansons [1:48]
10. Fleur jetée, Op. 39 No. 2 [1:23]
11. Nocturne, Op. 43 No. 2 [2:32]
12. Les Présents, Op. 46 No. 1 [1:28]
Trois poèmes d’un jour, Op. 21:
13. Rencontre [2:10]
14. Toujours [1:26]
15. Adieu [1:57]
16. Nell, Op. 18 No. 1 [1:40]
17. Les Roses d’Ispahan, Op. 39 No. 4 [2:40]
18. Au bord de l’eau, Op. 8 No. 1 [1:55]
19. Les Berceaux, Op. 23 No. 1 [2:47]
La Bonne Chanson, Op. 61:
20. Un sainte en son auréole [2:04]
21. Puisque l’aube grandit [1:50]
22. La lune blanche luit dans les bois [2:19]
23. J’allais par des chemins perfides [1:49]
24. J’ai Presque peur, en vérité [2:01]
25. Avant que tu ne t’en ailles [3:00]
26. Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d’été [2:46]
27. N’est-ce pas? [2:20]
28. L’hiver a cessé [3:26]
CD 2:
Charles GOUNOD (1818–1893)
1. Sérénade [3:25]
2. Viens, les gazons sont verts [1:06]
3. L’Absent [3:16]
Georges BIZET (1838–1875)
4. Ouvre ton coeur [2:51]
5. Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe [4:20]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841–1875)
6. Chanson pour Jeanne [3:27]
7. L’Île heureuse [2:57]
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855–1899)
8. Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37* [6:54]
9. Les Papillons, Op. 2 No. 3 [1:06]
10. Le Colibri, Op. 2 No. 7 [2:37]
Jules MASSENET (1842–1912)
11. Crépuscule [1:46]
12. Les Erinnyes – Tristesse du soir (mélodie-élégie)** [3:11]
Henri DUPARC (1848–1933)
13. L’Invitation au voyage [3:56]
14. Chanson triste [3:04]
15. Extase [2:59]
Léo DELIBES (1836–1891)
16. Les Filles de Cadix – Chanson espagnole [3:04]
Reynaldo HAHN (1875–1947)
17. Rêverie [2:10]
18. Le Rossignol des lilas [1:38]
19. Si mes vers avaient des ailes [2:02]
20. Quand je fus pris au pavillon [1:02]
Alfred BACHELET (1864–1944)
21. Chère nuit [6:45]
Jean Paul Égide MARTINI (1741–1816)
22. Plaisir d’amour [2:48]
Barbara Hendricks (soprano)
Michel Dalberto (piano); Christoph Richter (cello)**; Cherubini Quartet* (Christoph Poppen, Harald Schoneweg (violins); Hariolf Schlichtig (viola); Manuel Fischer-Dieskau (cello))
rec. 29 May-2 June 1989, Salle de Châtonneyre, Corseaux, Switzerland (CD 1); 21–24 February, 5 March 1995, Musical théâtre, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
[61:30 + 66:30]


Experience Classicsonline

I have had several reissues with Barbara Hendricks for review during the last year. The recurring impressions are: a beautiful voice with a personal timbre, sensitive phrasing and innate musicality but also a somewhat generalized approach to the texts and a lack of variety in tone colour – her singing is monochrome.

Still there is a lot to admire and on this 2 CD set with French mélodies she is quite often at her best, the French language and the special Gallic atmosphere more to her liking than the German counterpart. She has moreover the excellent Michel Dalberto at the piano, a musician with a wide repertoire, equally at home in the classics and the romantics.

The first disc, devoted entirely to Gabriel Fauré, starts with an intense and beautiful version of Après un rêve, possibly the best known of his songs. Throughout the disc she catches the predominantly lyrical moods admirably. Nocturne and Les Berceaux are presented in the best possible light but she is also successful with her powerful and dramatic reading of Fleur jetée. She makes a good effort at La Bonne Chanson, but here she is up against some formidable competition with Anne Sofie von Otter (DG 447752-2) probably the pick of the bunch. Their recordings are not fully comparable since von Otter sings it in a chamber version with a string quintet added to the piano, but her reading penetrates far deeper than that of Barbara Hendricks. There are many good recordings of Fauré’s other songs as well and a special favourite of mine is Frederica von Stade’s EMI album, which almost always comes to the fore when I want to hear these songs.

Disc 2 is a mixed recital with many a gem, some of them not very often heard. The three songs by Gounod are as melodious as anything he wrote – and not too sugary. Sérénade, a setting of Hugo, is charming and the melancholy L’Absent is exquisite. Bizet offers some orientalism and Chabrier, better known for his orchestral music had a fine ear for the human voice as well. Chausson’s Poème for violin and orchestra was frequently heard when I grew up. Today he doesn’t seem to be in vogue, which is a pity. He was an Impressionist – listen to the piano accompaniments – with a sweet melodious vein and Le Colibri is a song that should be standard fare. It is sung here with obvious relish and golden tone. Chanson perpetuelle is a long piece, dramatically conceived and with a string quartet giving extra weight to the accompaniment.

Massenet was another Frenchman with a sweet tooth. The sparsely accompanied Crépuscule is a lovely song while Les Erinnyes is one of his noblest melodies, superbly played here by cellist Christoph Richter. Here I would have preferred a straighter voice, more of the Kiri Te Kanawa type, to match the instrument.

Duparc needs more flexibility of tone but Barbara Hendricks is a sensitive interpreter within her own limitations.

In Delibes’s Les Filles de Cadix she is up against singers of the past like Lily Pons and Victoria de los Angeles and can’t quite compete with either, but she is also at a disadvantage by having a rather plain piano accompaniment while the others have colourful orchestras.

Hahn has long been a favourite in what could be called French parlour songs, a more sophisticated variant of the English Victorianism. Rêverie is a lovely song, Si mes vers avaient des ailes a true gem and it is beautifully rendered, no big gestures, just soft and unaffected intimate singing.

Bachelet is a composer who seems to be largely forgotten but his Chêre nuit is certainly one of the most beautiful vocal compositions imaginable. Lily Pons recorded it in 1946 and about ten years ago Dilbèr recorded it for a small Swedish company, a disc that probably has had very limited international circulation.

The encore, if you like, Plaisir d’amour, is sung faster than one normally hears it – and is far from unbecoming.

There are no texts and translations.

Readers who like French mélodies are likely to find quite a lot to admire here but should be aware of the limitations in Barbara Hendricks’s armoury of colours.

Göran Forsling


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