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Briefly Noted: Sandrine Piau

available at Amazon
Après un rêve, S. Piau, S. Manoff

(released on May 31, 2011)
Naïve V 5250 | 59'
French soprano Sandrine Piau has always been a pleasure for my ears, both live in concert and on disc. Her light but still focused, never airy voice would be expected to be beautifully suited to this recital of mostly French mélodies, with favorites by Poulenc and Fauré, including the former's song that gave its title to this rather gorgeous disc -- pieces that are almost always sung best by French singers (especially Poulenc), and not only for the native pronunciation. Surprises lurk in the programming, too, such as the unexpectedly pleasing Richard Strauss Lieder, songs one would not necessarily associate with a voice like Piau's -- decidedly French-hued Strauss, to be sure, but lovely nonetheless -- and Mendelssohn songs that sound of a piece with the mostly French program. The veiled imagery of Symbolism hangs like a heavy perfume in a set of songs by Ernest Chausson, as well as in the more recent Galgenlieder (Gallows songs), composed by Vincent Bouchot (b. 1966) to surrealist poetry by Christian Morgenstern (the vocabulary of fairy tales -- the Man in the Moon and the Midnight Mouse -- is used to describe adult-oriented puzzles). New York-born pianist Susan Manoff, who has partnered Piau brilliantly before, provides the right backdrops for each song, from transparent pastel to hexed rampage.

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