Favourites from Fauré, Strauss and more

Sandrine Piau and pianist Susan Manoff present a recital of songs based on the themes of dreams and visions

Title: Après un rêve
Strauss, Fauré, Mendelssohn
Repertoire:  Songs by Strauss, Fauré, Mendelssohn
Artists: Sandrine Piau (sop), Susan Manoff (pf)
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Vocal
Label: NAÏVEV 5250

The Music: The album includes familiar tuneful favourites from Fauré, Strauss and Poulenc, as well as a quirky set of nursery-rhymes-cum-cabaret-songs by French composer Vincent Bouchot (born in 1966).

The Performance: Piau’s exquisite voice has a limpid quality all through its range, an evenness of tone which seduces the ear, and – art concealing art – she makes her performance sound as easy and uncomplicated as breathing. She’s chosen songs which show off her wide-ranging interpretative abilities, from the floaty melancholy of Britten’s ‘The Salley Gardens’ to the flighty flitterings of Mendelssohn’s ‘Hexenlied’ (Witches’ Song). Bouchot’s Galgenlieder songs, with their skewed harmonies, off-centre melodies and dark fairy-tale lyrics, are a fascinating addition to the repertoire too, and Manoff’s accompanying is a treat.

The Verdict: Just occasionally Piau sacrifices the drama of a line for a beautiful sound, and ‘parks’ on a note rather than seeing it as part of a whole phrase. That said, she also knows how to get inside a song, and deliver it with absolute emotional conviction.

Want More? Piau’s stunning disc of Handel arias Between Heaven and Earth (Naïve, OP 30484) is also a winner.