Alice Coote: L'heure exquise
Five of Poulenc's songs are included in Alice Coote’s recital, L’heure exquise. She begins with ‘Les chemins de l’amour’ and ends with ‘Voyage’, summoning up both the light-hearted and the inwardly reflective facets of Poulenc’s musical personality. The disc takes its title from Reynaldo Hahn’s ‘L’heure exquise’, a lovely, quietly floated song of love to which his scintillating, rapturous ‘Les étoiles’ provides a gorgeous counterpart. Ranging through Fauré, Gounod, Chabrier (‘L’île heureuse’), Chausson, Berlioz (‘Le spectre de la rose’), Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Koechlin and Satie, this is a beautifully formed recital shining different lights on a central theme. It is distinguished by Coote’s thorough absorption in the stylistic character of each song, conveying their individual sentiments and sensitivities with her rich, liquid mezzo and relishing the colouristic potential of the poetic texts. Graham Johnson’s piano accompaniments are, as ever, wonderfully apt and complementary to the voice. Given the disc’s title, the mot juste might simply be ‘exquisite’.