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Nicole Cabell and Craig Terry: “Chanson D’Avril”

spacer Texts and translations. Delos DE 3450

CabellCD

At once womanly and ingenuous, Nicole Cabell’s luminescent lyric soprano finds its ideal channel in this exploration of French chansons. In the lush gem “Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe,” the first of four songs by Bizet, Cabell caresses the phrase “Hélas! Adieu!” like a seductive dare: leave — if you can. She maintains a darker color for the Spanish-influenced “Ouvre ton coeur” and “Pastorale,” while the ardent outpouring of “Chanson d’avril” reveals a sunnier glow. The restrained romanticism of Duparc’s “L’invitation au voyage” offers Cabell the opportunity to saturate her phrases with the voluptuous, luxuriant calm that Beaudelaire describes. Duparc’s “Chanson triste,” only nominally sad, is a joyous balm, while “Au pays où se fait la guerre” quivers with a mix of sorrow and hope. In Liszt’s “Enfant, si j’étais roi,” Cabell radiates grandiosity until the tender moment when she confesses her willingness to relinquish her imaginary crown for her child’s kiss. She lends the composer’s famous “Oh! quand je dors” a liquid, faraway quality, and “S’il est un charmant gazon” is as soothing as a gently cascading waterfall.

Ravel’s orchestration of Shéhérazade is so spectacular that it takes some adjustment to appreciate the delicacies of his piano version. Although Craig Terry plays with sensitivity and style, Cabell’s sense of fragrant familiarity with this sound cries out for the full range of orchestral color. Rather than treat “Asie” like a fevered imagining of the wonders of the East, Cabell seems already steeped in this milieu, a misplaced denizen who knows exactly what lurks there and longs to return. Her expansive middle register keens with yearning, but she projects targeted desire rather than wonder and curiosity. Cabell reserves her sense of discovery for “La flûte enchantée” and overlays the seduction of “L’indifférent” with a patina of resignation. When she sings “Mais non, tu passes,” it seems she has known from the first that this handsome youth will pass her by. She closes the recording with a somewhat anticlimactic rendition of Ravel’s Cinq Mélodies Populaires Grecques. Cabell exploits the earthy ripeness of the cycle overall,but the livelier songs lack the spark that should differentiate their mood from the more languorous entries. spacer 

JOANNE SYDNEY LESSNER

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