Magazine article Opera Canada

Melodies: Ravel

Magazine article Opera Canada

Melodies: Ravel

Article excerpt

MELODIES Ravel Catherine Robbin, mezzo-soprano, Andre Laplante, piano & assorted instrumentalists. CBC Records MVCD 1128 ****

This gorgeous recording, made four years ago, provides a French feast of rich music, richly interpreted. The program brings together many of Maurice Ravel's greatest compositions for solo voice: Cinq melodies populaires grecques (Five Popular Greek Songs); Chants populaires (Popular Songs); Deux melodies hebraiques (Two Hebrew Melodies); Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme (Three Poems of Stephane Mallarme); Chansons madecasses (Songs of Madegascar); and Sheherazade. This is music of almost infinite insinuation, with songs that complete themselves in the listener's experience long after the singing is done. It is a marvellous repertoire for Catherine Robbin, whose voice has always carried its own fascinating ambiguities of range and texture. Her ravishing mezzo-soprano, used with such musical intelligence and understated subtlety, illuminates the duality of Ravel's creations, which retain roots both in the exotic and in the salon.

In the Chants populaires, she is entirely at ease shifting from the "Chanson ecossaise"--a sweet and straightforward rendering of Robert Burns' "Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon"--to the rich Yiddishisms of the Chansons hebraiques ("Mejerke, main Suhn"). …

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