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Debussy: Songs, Vol. 2 / Anderson, Milne, Martineau


Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67883   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude Debussy
Performer:  Lisa MilneMalcolm MartineauLorna Anderson
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Schubert and Schumann seem to be the composers favored by song recitalists these days (how many Schwanengesangs and Frauenliebe und Lebens and Winterreises must there have been in the past 12 months?), so it’s a nice change of pace—not to mention style and texture and attitude—to spend an hour-plus with these 22 Debussy songs, performed by two very good sopranos and one pianist who really “gets” and knows how to execute the important aspects of color waiting to be gleaned from the composer’s rich and varied harmonic and textural palette.

Although these sopranos have very similar vocal timbres, I found myself just slightly more drawn to Lorna Anderson’s quality overall—for her unobtrusive vibrato regardless of dynamic level,
Read more her expressive nuances, and her comfort with her songs. To be sure, Lisa Milne certainly is no slouch here, but her vibrato and vocal control reveal a harshness when the dynamics get loud and the drama more intense. But both singers are excellent in the dreamier, softer, moodier material—and Anderson is particularly fine in the Chansons de Bilitis. This will prove a rewarding recital for fans of the music (an earlier volume was recorded by the same pianist with baritone Christopher Maltman); the sound is appropriately balanced between the voices and the very characterful, chromatic, vibrant Steinway piano.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

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In a recent review of piano music by Debussy and his admirers I said I couldn’t understand how anyone cannot love his music. Hearing these songs this feeling is doubly reinforced. These are ravishingly beautiful and are superbly sung by two wonderful sopranos. They are partnered by one of the greatest accompanists working today. It’s a heady mix of brilliance from all quarters.
 
It does help that French is such a musical language. It simply demands to be set, particularly when the poet is someone like Verlaine who penned nine of the poems on this disc. Anyone who has studied them will readily feel at home with these settings which give added meaning to the already evocative words.
 
I wasn’t aware that Debussy also wrote poems but the first group, Fêtes galantes, are followed by settings of four of his. While the poems cannot be compared with those of Verlaine and the others here his music shapes the words so majestically it just doesn’t matter. There then follow three songs to the poems of Pierre Louÿs, the second of which, Le chevelure, is so sensuous in its language anyone in love while reading it will immediately appreciate its sentiments which are further embellished by Debussy’s wonderful setting. More poems by Verlaine come next and then, as if to prove that French was always a language that seduces the poet within, there come Trois Chansons de France by the fifteenth century Charles Duc d’Orléans (1394-1465) in a French I find more easy to understand than any of Chaucer’s English. It’s brought bang up to date by Debussy who telescopes the centuries with his musical brilliance.
 
Finally there are three settings of poems by Mallarmé, again the finishing touch of Debussy’s music putting gilt upon a musical gingerbread. Debussy often spent a great deal of time among writers and painters declaring a preference to such people over fellow musicians. Perhaps that helps explain how he comes to have such an affinity in setting words and achieving the wonderful musical colouration he does in his music. As I said in the previous review of his music, one has only to listen to La cathédrale engloutie to appreciate how marvellously he can paint a picture in music.
 
This is a superb disc of Debussy songs and it’s hard to imagine being bettered in this selection. Both sopranos have such wonderfully delicate phrasing and a French that natives will find totally convincing. All in all this is thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding in every way.
 
-- Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Proses lyriques by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Lisa Milne (Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1893; France 
2.
Poèmes (3) de Mallarmé by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Lorna Anderson (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; France 
3.
Fêtes galantes, Set 1 by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Lorna Anderson (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1891; France 
4.
Chansons (3) de France by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Lorna Anderson (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; France 
5.
Chansons de Bilitis for Speaker and Chamber Ensemble by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Lorna Anderson (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900; France 
6.
Ariettes oubliées by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Lisa Milne (Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1885-1888; France 

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