Invitation au Voyage - Mélodies Françaises Stéphanie d’Oustrac (mezzo)
Pascal Jourdan (piano)
rec. 2014, Espace culturel C.J. Bonnet, Chapel of Jujurieux, France
French texts, English, German translations included AMBRONAY AMY042 [70:59]
Stéphanie d’Oustrac, a great-niece of Francis Poulenc,
has released a new album Invitation au Voyage - a stunning
collection of twenty-one songs. Rennes-born d’Oustrac has chosen
mélodies from five French composers, four from Duparc, eight
from Debussy, two from Hahn, three from Boulanger and four from Jacques
de la Presle, a composer unknown to me who is also the great uncle to
d’Oustrac. In view of the relationship it seems curious that d’Oustrac
hasn’t included any mélodies from her great-uncle Poulenc.
Owing to her work with early music specialists William Christie and
Marc Minkowski I’ve tended to associate d’Oustrac with mainly
Baroque music from say Lully, Charpentier and Handel. This release centred
on romantic/post romantic composers demonstrates her versatility. To
my ears the inclusion of the four mélodies by Jacques de la
Presle, not surprisingly quite similar in style to his cousin Poulenc,
is not out of place in this elevated company and those songs deserve
to be heard.
Moving fluidly and with ease between the particular moods of the mélodies
Stéphanie d’Oustrac is a most captivating and polished performer
— undoubtedly one of finest recital singers of her generation.
As chance would have it my two standout tracks happen to be the first
and last works on the release. Atmospheric and reflective Henri Duparc’s
well known, L'invitation au voyage written in 1884 demonstrates
this singer's burnished tone — smoky and mightily expressive.
I can’t agree with the author of the booklet notes who uncharitably
describes the pair of works contained here by the Venezuelan born, French
citizen Reynaldo Hahn as “sentimental ditties, unabashed salonnard.”
These are jewels of the mélodie repertoire that I never tire
of hearing. With d’Oustrac’s exquisite delivery À Chloris
(To Chloris) is as absorbing as one could imagine. Adding real
artistic value throughout the sensitive accompaniment of Pascal Jourdan
is vivid and steadfast.
I’m sad to say that the booklet essay didn’t make much sense
to me. There are some very curious choices of word; maybe much was lost
in translation. Thankfully the booklet includes full French texts with
English and German translations. The technical team for Ambronay has
provided superb clear sound and have struck a perfect balance between
voice and piano.
This is a wonderful and praiseworthy recital of elevated artistry.
Track-listing Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)
L'invitation au voyage (1884)
Chanson triste (1868)
Soupir (ca 1869)
La vie antérieure (1884) Jacques de la PRESLE (1888-1969)
Nocturne (1912) Claude DEBUSSY (1865-1918)
Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire (1887/89)
Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé (1913) Lili BOULANGER (1893-1918)
from Clairières dans le ciel (1916?):
No.6 Si tout ceci n'est qu'un pauvre rêve;
No..7 Nous nous aimerons tant;
No.8 Vous m'avez regardé avec toute votre âme Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
La Chère Blessure (1900)
À Chloris (1916)