Debussy: Harmonie du soir – Mélodies / Songs

Reviewed on Wed 31 Oct, 2018

Satisfying throughout is Sophie Karthäuser’s mellifluous, honeyed tone, Stéphane Degout’s ardency, both supported with feline grace by their nimble and nuanced companions.

Marking the centenary of Debussy’s death, this collection of mélodies and songs “set in the land of the Symbolist and Impressionist poets” is as fine a commemoration as any celebratory releases this year. It’s effectively a double recital – Sophie Karthäuser accompanied by Eugene Asti, Stéphane Degout by Alain Planès (whose complete solo piano music by Debussy, also for Harmonia Mundi, is a thing of bejewelled splendours). But what pleases most here is the shared sense of approach, as liquid as it is lithe, plangent as it is poetic. Satisfying throughout is Karthäuser’s mellifluous, honeyed tone, Degout’s ardency, both supported with feline grace by their nimble and nuanced companions. The interweaving of both pairs is silky-smooth even while allowing for telling contrasts of tone and temperament. Beautifully framed, immediate yet intimate sound adds to the considerable pleasure, imbuing the whole with more than a touch of the sublime. In a word: delicious.
–Michael Quinn