This collection is a pure delight. It is such a pity that these lovely
songs are not better known. Here is proof, if ever there was need for such,
of Massenet’s masterly lyrical invention for the female voice and of his
richly descriptive writing for the piano.
Massenet composed more than two hundred songs. Little is mentioned on the
internet about them. Apparently his early song collections were particularly
popular and helped establish his reputation. Grove comments that
although pleasing and impeccable in craftsmanship, they are not as inventive
as those of Bizet and less distinctive than those of Duparc and
Fauré. Robert Matthew-Walker in his notes for this collection disagrees and
makes a robust case in their favour, noting the strengths of a number of
them. It is a pity that space could not have been found for a detailed
description of every song, as Hyperion so often do for their song
The songs often follow Massenet’s operatic style in atmosphere, sentiment
and colour. Here is a representative collection ranging from the earliest
(circa 1866) to Menteuse chérie, lorsque tu m’as dit
composed shortly before Massenet died.
This album has the proven team of Sally Silver, at home both on the
operatic stage and in the recital room, and Richard Bonynge, husband of the
late Joan Sutherland. He is famed as an operatic conductor and scholar, and
with exceptional piano skills. Together they bring inspired, sympathetic,
thoughtfully nuanced readings to these songs.
I will mention just a few. The first one, Les amoureueses sont des
(Women who love are fools). There is a clear sense of the
operatic here in this enigmatic song that reflects a whirlpool of mixed
emotions. The swirling piano accompaniment suggests such turbulence, from
cruelty to the lover to
La Chanson du Ruisseau
(Song of the Stream) again brings the
operatic to mind. The blending and intertwining of the soprano and mezzo
(Christine Tocci) voices is beautifully realised and the piano part depicts
the rippling waters perfectly.
Melodramatic comedy informs the love-struck dialogue between the maiden
and her shepherd admirer in Dialogue Nocturne
Conversation) featuring tenor Nico Darmanin. The piano accompaniment
underlines the comedy.
introduces the cello to add depth to this little song
that celebrates the joys of mutual love.
A strong choice for all lovers of Massenet’s richly sentimental
1. Les amoureuses sont des folles
2. Si vous vouliez bien me le dire
3. À Mignonne
4. Beux yeux que j'aime
5. La chanson du ruisseau
(with C. Tocci) [2.39]
6. Dialogue nocturne
(with N. Darmanin) [2.51]
8. Je t'aime!
(with G. Swallow) [2.11]
5. Oiseau des bois
(with C. Tocci) [2.13]
10. Sainte Thérèse prie
11. Horace et Lydie
(with N. Darmanin) [4.06]
12. Coupe d'ivresse
13. Tout passe!
14. On dit!
15. O ruisseau
(with C. Tocci, N. Darmanin) [1.54]
17. Oh! ne finis jamais
(with C. Tocci) [2.59]
18. Le temps et l'amour
(C. Tocci, N. Darmanin only)
19. Dans le sentier, parmi les roses
21. Les yeux clos
(with G. Swallow) [1.59]
22. Les extases
24. Menteuse chérie