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Renée Fleming and Jean-Yves Thibaudet make the kind of dream team that could sell almost any programme in almost any venue, and not just because they each rank in the first division of their fields of voice and piano. They enjoy a real relationship as artists that has grown over the years through their involvement with the two Spoleto Festivals of Italy and America. And it positively shines through this CD, which glows with the sheer joy of shared musicianship and fellow-feeling. Most of the songs are standard repertory--by Fauré, Debussy, Strauss and Rachmaninov--but with some fascinating unfamiliar items from a late romantic figure poised for rediscovery, Joseph Marx. And although Fleming doesn't always read them with the depth or intensity of the very greatest recital singers who sacrifice beauty for truth, the beauty of the voice here is far more than pretty packaging. It serves the text imaginatively and exquisitely. And Thibaudet, although a brazenly flamboyant personality on stage, makes a committed and supportive partner when you hear rather than see him: more than an accompanist but not competitive--in fact, a perfect partner. The result is the most pleasurable disc I've heard in months. --Michael White