Reviewed on Mon 21 Jul, 2014
As a composer and performer, Poulenc was meticulous in the crafting and execution of his mélodies, and his expectation was that others would bring a similar care with his creations. It’s good to have a programme that mixes better-known individual songs with important cycles and rarely performed pieces such as the Vocalise-Étude to give a full impression of Poulenc’s art-song oeuvre. Sophie Karthäuser and Eugene Asti prove more than equal to the challenge, taking on songs written for both male and female voice as well as being alert to the subtleties of wit or pathos in the texts from poets as diverse as Shakespeare, Apollinaire, Eluard, Aragon and Louise de Vilmorin. Karthäuser and Asti make their individual interpretative marks on this repertoire to stand alongside Poulenc’s own recordings with Pierre Bernac or, more recently, Michel Piquemal (Naxos) as a great introduction to this most Gallic of repertoire. Admirable sound quality and succinct introductory notes, texts and translations add to my overall strong recommendation.