Sabine Devieilhe: "Mirage"
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Sabine Devieilhe: "Mirage"

CD Button Crebassa, Devos; Tharaud, piano; Les Siècles, Roth. Texts and translations. Erato 9029576772.

Recordings Mirage Cover 318
Critics Choice Button 1015 

FRENCH SOPRANO Sabine Devieilhe seems too good to be true—a fine actress with excellent diction, a well-trained Baroque singer whose musicianship and clean coloratura allow her exemplary mastery over contemporary music as well as the mélodie literature. Her latest recording collects songs and operatic numbers reflecting some kind of imagined otherness, whether Orientalist (a term skirted by the program booklet in favor of “exotic”) or just fantastical, as in arias for Ophelia by Berlioz and Thomas or Mélisande’s music, here arrestingly sung. She’s sometimes joined by two of France’s most accomplished young musicians—the brilliant pianist Alexandre Tharaud (in the three song selections) and rising mezzo Marianne Crebassa, with whom she sings a fine version of the rapturous “Viens, Mallika” (the famous flower duet), from Lakmé. Delibes’s opera also furnishes the bell song and the heroine’s lyrical final apostrophe, “Tu m’as donné le plus doux rêve.” 

Conductor François-Xavier Roth deftly creates a dreamy atmosphere. Devieilhe excels both in Berlioz’s elegiac narrative “Mort d’Ophélie” (with Tharaud) and in Thomas’s multipartite mad scene from Hamlet, in which her clear, youthful timbre sounds more plausibly girlish than that of other remarkable modern interpreters of the bravura piece.From Thaïs, Devieilhe wisely samples not the title role but (with Crebassa and Jodie Devos in support) the proto-Zerbinetta La Charmeuse, in the Orientalist fantasy “Celle qui vient est plus belle.” She aces the titular bird’s Rimsky-inflected song from Stravinsky’s Rossignol. Less familiar selections include an elegant aria from André Messager’s Madame Chrysanthème (1893) and Maurice Delage’s spare Quatre Poèmes Hindous (1912). —David Shengold 

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