The bulk of Henri Duparc's oeuvre consists of 17 songs, the 16 recorded here plus one duet for soprano and tenor. He was a master of the late Romantic mélodie, and many of these songs are masterpieces of the genre. The recital by Canadian mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier is to some degree a successful account of the songs, but her performance isn't entirely consistent. She sings with passion and nuanced intelligence and brings real understanding to her interpretations. Her voice is full and secure through her range, even down to the depths of La vague et la cloche. The songs are predominantly dark and driven by Romantic angst, but Losier is most effective in the songs that are lighter in tone and don't require her to push. In the more dramatically charged songs, there is a sense that she is striving for an intensity that's beyond her natural comfort level, and the result is sometimes faulty intonation and a vibrato that's not entirely under control. She has demonstrated that she can negotiate the songs' low-lying sections, but when she pushes too hard in that register, as in L'invitation au voyage, for instance, she sounds unsupported. She doesn't have the gift for easily and effortlessly coloring her voice, so her tone quality tends to be somewhat monochromatic. In the more delicate songs, though, such as Chanson Triste and Phidylé, she sounds warmly lovely and entirely at ease. Duparc's piano parts are dynamic and dramatic, and Daniel Blumenthal shines in his vivid accompaniments. The sound is clean and well balanced.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins