German Baritone + Italian Pianist = Sublime French Song,
This review is from: Holger Falk/Alessandro Zuppardo (Audio CD)
This is Volume 2 of baritone Holger Falk and pianist Alessandro Zuppardo's traversal of the complete songs of Francis Poulenc, or at least those that are appropriate to a male voice. Volume 1 was devoted to Poulenc's settings of poems by Guillaume Apollinaire; this one covers his other central artistic collaboration, with Paul Eluard - a total of 34 songs - as well four settings of texts by Louise de Vilmorin (the remaining nine Vilmorin songs are really soprano territory).
I thought Volume 1 was wonderful: Falk's voice, hovering between high baritone and low tenor, is ideally suited to the tricky "baryton-martin" tessitura of most of Poulenc's songs, and it's also a quite beautiful instrument. His French is extremely well-schooled, and he is a thoughful, stylish and unobstrusively imaginative interpreter. Zuppardo plays terrifically throughout. Not surprisingly, their efforts won the stamp of approval of Dalton Baldwin, the distinguished pianist who recorded the first-ever complete Poulenc song set.
Volume 2 is as good or even better, mainly because Falk is at his most distinctive in the lyrical songs, where his faultless line and lovely tone can really shine. Eluard's texts tend to bring out this side of Poulenc's genius: the CD starts with "Tu vois le feu du soir," one of his finest love songs, and includes perhaps his greatest single cycle, "Tel jour telle nuit." Falk and Zuppardo are sensitive to the fluctuations of emotional tone between and within songs, and the result is one of the most thoroughly satisfying recitals of this sublime repertoire in recent years. Full texts and translations. Highly recommended.