Stéphane Degout / Sophie Karthäuser / Eugene Asti / Alain Planès

Claude Debussy: Harmonie du Soir - Mélodies

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AllMusic Review by

The centenary of Claude Debussy's death has awaited a strong recording of his mélodies, or songs, and this fine duo recital by soprano Sophie Karthäuser and baritone Stéphane Degout, conceived by the pair themselves, has many strengths. One is that there's not only a pair of accompanists, Eugène Asti and Alain Planès, but they're not in one-to-one correspondence with the singers. This gives each one room to explore more unconventional interpretations, such as the very hushed piano in the three Chansons de Bilitis with Karthäuser, which may be sampled. The songs are grouped in the sets from which they come, all devoted to works by a single poet, and there's plenty to chew on here as the chronological development of Debussy's style is set against his engagement with poetry; almost half of Debussy's 100 songs are included, with an emphasis on those from sets of poetry. The title of the box comes from that of a poem by Baudelaire in the settings of the Cinq poèmes that close out the program, and Belgian soprano Karthäuser is sensitive to the subtlety of his verse. Here again there is a nice contrast with Degout's singing; her strength is a luminous beauty of tone. The intimate sound from the Teldex Studio in Berlin is ideal.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:30 Amazon
Trois Mélodies
2 02:40 Amazon
3 03:21 Amazon
4 01:35 Amazon
5 01:41 Amazon
Fêtes galantes
6 02:34 Amazon
7 01:22 Amazon
8 02:36 Amazon
9 02:40 Amazon
10 02:08 Amazon
11 04:17 Amazon
Images oubliées, suite
12 04:46 Amazon
Chansons de Bilitis
13 02:22 Amazon
14 03:11 Amazon
15 02:32 Amazon
Trois Chansons de France
16 01:33 Amazon
17 02:17 Amazon
18 02:18 Amazon
Trois Ballades de François Villon
19 04:37 Amazon
20 04:29 Amazon
21 02:28 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 01:41 Amazon
2 01:50 Amazon
3 02:04 Amazon
4 02:23 Amazon
Images oubliées, suite
5 03:58 Amazon
Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé
6 02:49 Amazon
7 02:17 Amazon
8 02:20 Amazon
9 02:13 Amazon
10 02:24 Amazon
11 02:45 Amazon
Images oubliées, suite
12 03:53 Amazon
13 01:54 Amazon
14 03:06 Amazon
Le Promenoir des deux amants
15 02:21 Amazon
16 01:51 Amazon
17 02:02 Amazon
18 02:00 Amazon
Cinq Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire
19 07:16 Amazon
20 03:47 Amazon
21 05:06 Amazon
22 04:37 Amazon
23 02:52 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick