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Henry Fogel
Fanfare, November 2012

A one-word summary: lovely. This collection of 25 songs…contains many gems, some of which are not otherwise currently available on disc and all of which are reasonably rare…cellist Matthieu Fontana joins the soprano and pianist in three of the songs, and quite effectively. The one hit here is Élégie, although I have not heard it before in the version for soprano, piano, and cello, and I find it quite affecting.

Some of the songs are quite dramatic, a few even with a spoken verse before the singing. Most of them are from later in Massenet’s life—some from his last year. There are a few surprises along the way. La Lettre is a setting of Charlotte’s letter to Werther, composed long after the opera but using very effectively some of the love music from the original in a completely new way.

This disc should spark a further exploration of Massenet’s song output. There are light, witty songs, and some darker, more tragic ones. His melodic gift runs throughout, and his piano writing is particularly effective, much more than mere accompaniment.

Soprano Sabine Revault d’Allones has a typical, bright, evenly produced French lyric voice. She communicates total identification with the material…Overall she is a pleasure to hear. Pianist Samuel Jean is her equal, inflecting the music with real spirit and energy, and also reflecting the mood and text perfectly.

The recorded sound very slightly favors the singer, but not dramatically so. There is a bit more air around the voice than I like, but again, the problem is minor, and others may react more positively. One adjusts quickly, and just enjoys the offerings this disc puts before us. The notes in the bilingual booklet are superb—informative and engaging, and decently translated into English. Full texts and translations are provided as well. The disc has no real competition, and is very highly recommended to anyone with an interest in French vocal music. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Sudie Marcuse
American Record Guide, September 2012

Today many singers treat the use of spoken words in a song as slightly embarrassing, but Soprano Sabine Revault d’Allonnes is blessed with an appealing and expressive voice whether speaking or singing; and she brings to these pieces, which might seem superficial or over the top in other hands, a heartbreaking restraint as well as convincingly genuine passion.

In three of the songs a cello is added to the texture in dialog with the soprano, questioning, exclaiming, and completing her thoughts. Elsewhere the piano is the duet partner, reduced to a single melody in delicate counterpoint with the voice. ‘Automne’ and ‘Les Maronnier’ are notable for the way they create a mood, nostalgic or regretful, with a remarkable economy of means. The autumnal mood of the later cycle balances the youthful exuberance of the earlier set, but both cycles include both melancholy and joyful texts. ‘Amours Benis’, which closes the first cycle, brims with lush, satisfying harmonies, and ‘Pareils a des Oiseaux’ completes the later cycle with defiant passion and insistent repeated chords.

…excellent performances on this impressive record will certainly repay serious attention. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

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