Invitation au voyage – Mélodies françaises by Duparc, Jacques de La Presle, Debussy, Lili Boulanger and Hahn

Reviewed on Fri 17 Apr, 2015

Shamefully, mezzo-soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac was a voice new to me, but on the strength of this sumptuously delivered recital of French mélodies, I’m keen to hear more. Calling to mind Pauline Viardot – albeit noticeably less crisply enunciated and with richer, rounder, stained oak timbres – d’Oustrac is appreciably, lusciously even, at home in the ripe, rewarding melancholy of this material. With elegantly evocative support from long-time accompanist Pascal Jourdan, there is much to enjoy here in the heady atmospheres of Debussy’s Baudelaire settings, the approachable simplicity of Lili Boulanger and the almost pointillist economy of four songs by Jacques de La Presle (1888-1969). Poise and precision is the order of the day from d’Oustrac, who sings with nuanced eloquence and gorgeous, velveteen sonorities throughout in a recital of red-blooded candour. Texts are included but the programme note has lost much in translation, rendering it all but un-readable.
–Michael Quinn