Jessye Norman's sumptuous voice glides over the Wagnerian chromatic side-shifts in these exquisite songs and reminds us that she is the best non-French singer of French melodies. By "glide", I do not mean to suggest that there is anything superficial in her singing; she subtly suggests a whole, wide range of emotions, sometimes fining her huge voice down to beautifully controlled pianissimi, sometimes opening up gloriously, always changing the colour to suit the narrative of this melancholy tale. Only Janet Baker approaches Norman for beauty of tone - or Souzay, if you want a true, masculine, gallic voice. Gorgeous tone from Jordan and the Monte-Carlo orchestra; nothing rushed, but nothing dragging - and lovely instrumental accompaniments in the smaller scale songs.
So why only four stars? Two reasons: short measure by today's greedy CD owner standards - only 45 minutes of music - and, two, no libretto - standard with bargain issues, but annoying nonetheless.