Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
4 Songs, Op. 51 (1888-1890) [10:58]
Shylock Op. 57: Chanson and Madrigal (189) [2:58]
Cinq Mélodies ‘de Venise', Op. 58 (1891) [12:56]
Le parfum impérissable Op. 76 No. 1 (1897) [2:04]
Arpège, Op. 76 No. 2 (1897) [2:09]
Two Songs, Op. 83; Prison No.1 [1:55]; Arpège No.2 [2:04]
Dans la forêt de septembre Op. 85 No. 1 (1902) [2:59]
La fleur qui va sur l'eau Op. 85 No. 2 (1902) [2:06]
Accompagnement Op. 85 No. 3 91902) [3:35]
Le plus doux chemin Op. 87 No. 1 (1904) [1:15]
Le ramier Op. 87 No. 2 (1904) [1:33]
Le don silencieux Op. 92 (1906) [2:01]
Chanson Op. 94 (1906) [1:28]
Yann Beuron (tenor)
Billy Eidi (piano)
rec. February 2009, Chapelle de l’Hôpital du Bon-Secours, Paris
TIMPANI 1C1162 [51:42]

Programming in this disc has been guided by what is called Fauré’s ‘3rd Recueil’, those works published by Hamelle in 1908 that co-ordinate songs written between 1888 and 1904. Also included are two songs written in 1906, so we have in all the fruits of eighteen years of composition. In opus terms this takes us from Op.51 to Op. 87 and adds Opp.92 and 94 - and in terms of Fauré’s stylistic affinities it falls broadly into his so-called second period. It makes for good programming and recital sense.

It’s doubtless coincidence that chronological programming by and large replicates the tremendous set of recordings made by Souzay, Ameling and Baldwin for French EMI, a set that has stood, and will continue to stand, as an emblem of French vocalism of the time, even if Souzay was then somewhat past his best. In any case Yann Beuron is a tenor so a rather different tonal and timbral take is to be expected, one that the differing interpretative stances reinforces. This is in no way a sub-Souzay recital; it retains perfect independence.

One thing that did concern me however was the balance between voice and piano in this new set. For the earlier pieces it’s over-weighted toward the piano, though things do improve. Beuron and the excellent pianist Billy Eidi in any case prove more dramatic and powerful than Souzay and Baldwin in Au cimetière and in the case of Spleen the ardency is spiced by a faster tempo as well. Beuron has the advantage of lightening his tone to one of boyish enthusiasm, as he does in La Rose. The many metric and expressive touches that go toward so successful a recital are apparent here, and reflect splendidly on the two musicians.

The Shylock songs are sung with artistry and Gallic grace. Eidi proves a less ‘tripping’ accompanist than Dalton Baldwin in Mandoline from the Op.58 Cinq Mélodies ‘de Venise' but the duo deal justly with the ardent À Clymène. When Fauré turns bleak he does so with powerful insistence. Arpège is possibly the most anguished setting here - bereft in extremis - and Beuron proves an interpreter of suitably anguished expressive depth. Souzay is the more resigned - a most fruitful divergence of responses. There are some moments when the nature of the settings taxes Beiron - he’s a touch discomfited by Soir for instance - but his sensitivity is nowhere in doubt. He proves more overtly fragile than Souzay in the Op.85 set; the older man exudes rugged confidence. Sometimes this extra, ultra-sensitivity can lead to a slight listlessness rhythmically; one feels this in the two Op.87 songs.

But this is a fine recital; even the recorded balance tightens up after initially being skewed. The notes are in French and English; texts are in French only. The partnership between Beuron and Eidi is well-nigh perfect. Their interpretative decisions carry weight and conviction. There are other ways of doing things, but their choices sound convincing as one listens and after, as one reflects.

Jonathan Woolf  

see also review by Göran Forsling (February 2010 Recording of the Month)