FAURÉ The Complete Songs, Vol 3
Volume 3 of Malcolm Martineau’s Fauré series closes with a performance by William Dazeley of Mirages, Fauré’s penultimate song-cycle, written in 1919 to texts by the Symbolist poet Renée de Brimont. The cycle has been well served on disc, most notably, of late, by Marianne Crebassa and Fazıl Say on their ‘Secrets’ album released last year. Dazeley and Martineau give us another fine interpretation, however, darker in mood than Crebassa and Say, if equally cogent and refined. The restrained insistence of Dazeley’s singing proves persuasive in music that balances ornate imagery with stripped-back simplicity of expression. Martineau, meanwhile, lets every note tell with his customary subtlety: there’s exquisite detail in his treatment of the ripples that disturb the calm waters of ‘Reflets dans l’eau’ and the shifting rhythmic figurations that accompany the elusive ‘Danseuse’ of the final song. It’s a strong addition to the work’s discography.
As with the previous volumes, meanwhile, the remaining songs are distributed between an impressive roster of singers, nine in all. Some are new to the series: Isobel Buchanan, who returned to performance in 2015 after an absence of some 20 years, is fiercely dramatic in the moody 1870 Baudelaire setting ‘Chanson d’automne’, which also finds Martineau at his most intense and incisive; Louise Kemény, her voice like a flash of silver, sounds beautiful in the ‘Ave Maria’ from 1895. Among the regular singers, John Chest continues to impress and beguile, this time with the early Hugo setting ‘Tristesse d’Olympio’, while Ann Murray is at her most elegant in the familiar ‘Clair de lune’. Lorna Anderson gives us ‘Le parfum impérissable’ along with Mélisande’s song from the Pelléas incidental music, both hauntingly done: she sings the latter in English, quietly reminding us that the score was originally commissioned for the London premiere of Maeterlinck’s play in 1898. There are a handful of uncharacteristic slips, however, in the accompanying booklet: printed texts occasionally differ from what is being sung; Ann Murray is credited with performing ‘Spleen’, when it’s actually sung, with considerable power, by Thomas Oliemans. But even so, this is another fine issue in what is proving to be a most admirable series. I look forward to the rest of it.