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Debussy: Clair de lune CD

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Product details

  • Performer: Natalie Dessay, Philippe Cassard, Le jeune choeur de Paris
  • Composer: Debussy
  • Audio CD (6 Feb. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B006LPI0IC
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,637 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Nuit d'étoiles
2. Pantomime
3. Claire de lune
4. Pierrot
5. Apparition
6. En sourdine
7. Fête galante
8. Romance (L'Ame évaporée)
9. Les Cloches
10. Rondel chinois
11. Flots, palmes, sables
12. La Romance d'Ariel
13. Regret
14. Le matelot qui tombe à l'eau
15. Coquetterie posthume
16. L'Archet
17. Romance
18. Les Elfes
19. La Damoiselle élue

Product Description

One of the chief attractions of this album is the inclusion of the premiere recordings of four songs unpublished songs Debussy wrote when he was 20, that had only recently come to light.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Entartete Musik on 22 Mar. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I adore Natalie Dessay. From the note-gilding tricks of her Mozart Concert Arias, to the abject Mélisande she delivered on her birthday last year, she has wowed time and time again. But it's useless to pretend that her voice is the instrument it once was. And what works in the concert hall no longer translates to disc, as evidenced in this new recording of Debussy Mélodies.

Rather than the whispered tones of her Mélisande, Dessay has chosen a more direct approach with works from Debussy's early years. The decision exposes nascent lyrical shortcomings. Dessay's sound is too focussed and edgy. While I praise a muscular approach to Debussy on Rafa' Blechacz's recent piano disc, it doesn't work for the composer's vocal idiom. This is uptight rather than intense singing and the effect can be waring over the course of its 73-minute duration. But when Dessay releases herself from those contraints, she shines.

A confessional 'Claire de lune' and the more pregnant reflections of 'Regret' (including some ravishing floating) allow a natural sense of communication to come to the fore. Yet in that change from spirited young girl to full-throated woman (via complicated and no doubt painful operations on her nodes), Dessay has been forced to swallow her words in favour of a more open sound. If only she could take Philippe Cassard's lead from the piano, where he provides a languid but light accompaniment.

Despite Dessay's unidiomatic presence, this is an enjoyable disc. For, bar the Prélude de l'après-midi d'un faune and the String Quartet, Debussy's early years go under-celebrated. There are four world premieres included and a rare chance to hear the 1890s cantata La damoiselle élue. But you cannot help feel that, however devoted to Dessay, she is now suited to other repertoire. Instead, for a recent Debussy benchmark, do have a listen to Sandrine Piau.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Much more than Claire de Lune 14 April 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An excellent CD and the hype I heard about it was all true. Dessay was made for this type music. Having a native French soprano singing French music especially from this period in music history is well worth the price of the disc. All in all, a terrific recital.
Dr. Alan-Clarke Hudson
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Natalie Dessay at home with Debussy Songs 22 Jun. 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This album of songs, some recorded for the first time is definitely a collaboration between winger and pianist. It is the scholarship and investigation of Philippe Cassard that provided the impetus for this recording that takes Natalie Dessay away from her usual coloratura and Baroque roles and places her in the position of a chanteuse for a satisfying recital. Still, this is very much a pet project of Cassard's, and the real coup is the presentation of four unpublished songs Cassard discovered in the archives of an arts patron. The most extraordinary of these is Les Elfes, Debussy's now longest song, a perfumed, skittish setting of Leconte de Lisle's Erlking-tinged romantic ballad, but quite frankly they are all gems, with a wonderful salon feel to Romance, and brooding, almost Schubertian turmoil in L'Archet.

Dessay is at the peak of her career and while her place is most comfortably on the opera stage, she has stepped on the concert stage with relative ease. Together Dessay and Cassard offer 13 songs: Clair de Lune. Nuit d'etoiles. Pantomime. Pierrot. Apparition. En Sourdine. Fête galante. Romance. Les Cloches. Rondel chinois. La Romance d'Ariel. Regret. Le Matelot qui tombe à l'eau. Coquetterie posthume. L'Archet. Romance. Les Elfes. Flots, Palmes in which they are joined by Catherine Michel, harp, and the mini-oratorio La Damoiselle élue blissfully delivered by Dessay with Karine Deshayes, mezzo soprano and the chamber version with the Jeune Choeur de Paris conducted by Henri Chalet. As ne critic has said, `The choir and mezzo are flawless, and without orchestra to fight against, Dessay takes her fragile sound down to a delectable whisper. In many ways this is the highlight of the disc and supplements the classic orchestral versions with Victoria de los Angeles or, for a similar vulnerability to the singing, Ileana Cotrubas.'

Though this is a new direction for Dessay, and that alone can explain the at times odd decisions she makes vocally as she has the stage to herself independent of operatic trappings, her crystalline and supple coloratura serve her well. This is an art song collector's prize and should find a rather satisfied audience beyond the usual scope of Natalie Dessay's current operatic following. Grady Harp, June 12
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing Dessay Debussy 10 July 2015
By jt52 - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I’d had only very positive experiences with French soprano Natalie Dessay until buying “Clair de Lune”. So I was surprised to hear a very flawed, unsteady performance of vocal music from Claude Debussy. The 5th track, “Apparition” (1884), exhibits the issues. Dessay struggles higher up in her range in the middle of this song, shrill, sliding between pitches and revealing uncertain command of the notes. These problems are particularly unexpected because, based on my other experiences, Dessay’s particular strength is a wonderful high range. I did wonder whether Dessay simply hadn’t practiced the material enough. Dessay is better in the lower registers. The “Rondel chinois” (track 10, written in 1881) has some nice moments as Dessay sings naturally and effectively in her lower range, but the problems are present throughout the release.

“Clair de Lune” concludes with an arrangement of Debussy’s neo-Raphaelite cantata “The Blessed Damozel”, with Dessay singing the solo role, accompanied by chorus and, here, not the orchestra, but arranged for piano, played by her accompanist Philippe Cassard. The booklet doesn’t provide the provenance of this arrangement, as Debussy wrote it with orchestral accompaniment. Although Cassard plays well – he is excellent throughout and is the bright spot in this effort – the cantata is in my opinion conceived with orchestra in mind; Debussy’s orchestration forms a key component of this unusual work’s sound world. And while continuing to exhibit some of the issues in her higher range, Dessay also sings dully. The climax of the Damozel’s solo part is the emphatic reference to “Christe Notre Seigneur” about 14 minutes in. This is a subtle but indelible climax in the wonderful version recorded by Maria Ewing, with Claudio Abbado, or by Dawn Upshaw in another good interpretation (with Salonnen, Sony). Dessay is flat – not in pitch, but in feeling. By the way, if you live near Boston and are interested in the Blessed Damozel”, go visit the Fogg Museum at Harvard where you will see the painting of the subject from poet Dante Rosetti, who wrote the text set by Debussy.

Besides the vocal performance, I wasn’t enthralled with the selection of songs here. There’s an emphasis on songs from the early and middle 1880s, before Debussy reached his creative maturity. Ms. Upshaw’s wonderfully-sung “Forgotten Songs” album (on Sony) makes clear the artistic divide between immature and mature Debussy. The songs before about 1887 or 1888 are dull and unmemorable. But something happened in these years and, after crossing the divide, Debussy’s music became consistently interesting and distinctive. “Clair de Lune” concentrates on the songs of the earlier years and reinforces my lack of interest. It doesn’t help that Dessay’s singing is nowhere near the quality of Upshaw’s. If you are interested in this period of Debussy’s trajectory, you should seek out the American soprano’s alternative.

Sound quality is very good. This is a disappointing disc, despite Cassard’s pianism. Dessay has done better elsewhere and I’m confident she’ll do more characteristically outstanding work in the future. This one’s a miss.

PS I'm flummoxed by the positive reviews here on Amazon. You can downvote me all you want but I've been listening to and playing Debussy for decades and have been paying a lot of attention to Debussy's songs in recent years. One overlooked disc that I recommend is the compilation of French songs titled "Nuits d'etoiles" from the marvelous Veronique Gens. It has music from other composers, too, but the Debussy cycles included are wonderful. Also, look for the discs from Christoper Maltman, who has a beautiful lower-range baritone voice and does well. All of the alternatives I've mentioned are far more worth your time than this unfortunate Dessay effort.
Natalie Dessay's Debussy recording 28 Mar. 2014
By Jeanne Duffy - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I found it a marvelous recording. Natalie sings beautifully (and, of course, her French is impeccable), capturing the moods of Debussy.
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