Magazine article Gramophone

'Sirenes': Berlioz la Mort De Cleopatre

Magazine article Gramophone

'Sirenes': Berlioz la Mort De Cleopatre

Article excerpt

'Sirenes'

Berlioz La mort de Cleopatre. Les nuits d'ete Liszt Es war ein Konig in Thule, S278/2. Freudvoll und leidvoll--S280/1; S280/2. Im Rhein, im schonen Strome, S272/2. Die Loreley, S273/2. Uber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, S306/2

Wagner Wesendonck Lieder

Stephanie d'Oustrac mez Pascal Jourdan pf

Harmonia Mundi (F) HMM90 2621 (76' * DDD * T/t)

This is a paradoxical disc in some ways. Given Stephanie d'Oustrac's track record in her native French repertory, most people, one suspects, will be drawn to it by the thought of her singing Berlioz, though the real revelation here is the Wesendonck Lieder, which is all the more surprising given that she has never, to my knowledge, sung Wagner on stage. It must be said at the outset that d'Oustrac's artistry is compelling throughout but that the Wagner owes something of its impact to the fact that her voice is at its freshest. Elsewhere, the close-ish recording captures an occasional flutter or pulse in her tone when singing softly in her middle registers. It doesn't pull her off pitch but it sometimes feels intrusive, most notably in Berlioz's 'Absence' and Liszt's 'Uber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh'.

In the Wesendonck Lieder, however, the pulse, though noticeable, is under greater control, and d'Oustrac's smoky tone, careful dynamic shading and wonderful sense of line and phrase conspire with Pascal Jourdan's marvellous playing to give us something special. The atmosphere of erotic morbidity is breathtakingly sustained in a performance that gazes beyond Tristan towards both the fin de siecle French melodie and the darker Lieder of Strauss and Wolf. …

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