There are two cycles at the heart of Ailish Tynan and Iain Burnside’s Fauré recital - Cinq Mélodies de Venise, Op.56 and the much later Le Jardin clos, Op.106. They have chosen to present a series of single songs as well, drawn largely from the composer’s early years, that precious decade between 1878 and 1888.
The results are often very pleasing. The two musicians form a harmonious ensemble, like-minded as to tempi and weight of tone, as well as the often tricky business of apt characterisation. It is sensible to open with the light-hearted and extrovert Nell which is immediately contrasted with the more exotic charms of Les roses d'Ispahan. Tynan certainly vests the latter with allure but for appreciation of its textual significance you may prefer instead Elly Ameling’s classic recording with Dalton Baldwin, which explores linguistic subtleties more acutely. The Ameling-Baldwin cycle, by the way, has just reappeared in a giant Fauré Edition box set: Brilliant Classics 94750.
The question of Tynan’s vibrato usage is one that is something of a personal matter. Sometimes it’s a little over-used and in Après un rêve, fine though the music’s direction is, I found it a touch intrusive. It can sometimes slow her down, too, as Notre amour demonstrates. Ameling is altogether quicker, and more confiding and conversational as a direct result. Her warmer singing is to be preferred, where Tynan is guilty of some rather generic Fauré-isms. I don’t think it’s wholly inappropriate to cite Janet Baker’s old EMI recording of Mai, made with Gerald Moore. There is sometimes something a little mezzo-ish about Tynan’s vocal production and it’s interesting that whilst she’s quicker than Baker, should that matter of itself, she is again less attentive to the words.
I think collectors will appreciate the selection ofLe Jardin clos as it tends to be one of Fauré’s more overlooked cycles. Given the eight songs’ relative brevity they don’t offer too much room for interpretative manoeuvre but they do demand appreciation of their very particular characters. Tynan is at her best here, and the lower part of her voice is well sustained - allied to which she doesn’t cede to temptation to impede the rhythm. She sings with directness and clarity. Cinq Mélodies de Venise, Op.56 include two of the composer’s best loved songs, Mandoline and En sourdine. She sings this cycle with appropriate expressive resources, though once more perhaps her vibrato can become a little too incessant. It tends to come between the listener and the individual songs rather than heighten expression of them.
This is a well thought-out recital, with variety and a sensible focus on two specific cycles. If it’s not wholly successful it nevertheless offers some rewarding singing and musicianship, extremely well recorded.