Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages

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AllMusic Review by

This release by hot French soprano Sabine Devieilhe has multiple strengths that propelled it onto the charts right out of the box, so to speak. Appreciation for Devieilhe's manifest vocal gifts should not obscure the superb work done by recording and mixing engineer Hugues Deschaux, working in the Salle de répétition no. 1 of the Philharmonie de Paris. Especially on the orchestral tracks featuring the group Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth, Deschaux creates a mysterious sound environment in which Devieilhe seems to hover alluringly in the distance. This fits the programming concept in an uncanny way: Mirages explores exotic heroines in late Romantic French opera and song. This is hardly an uncommon idea in the opera of the period, French or otherwise, but Devieilhe's focus is both close and original: moving outward from the familiar Flower Duet from Lakmé (featuring mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa), she touches on both unusual and peripherally related repertory. Both are compelling. Do not miss the rarely heard Quatre Poèmes Hindous of Maurice Delage, composed in India and making the orchestra most evocatively into a traditional Indian instrument. Likewise, Devieilhe links heroines such as Berlioz's Ophelia to the emergence of the themes here. The mix of orchestral and piano-accompanied pieces is slightly jarring, but this is in the main both beautiful and compelling.

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