Natalie Dessay

Natalie Dessay de l'Opéra à la Chanson

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French soprano Natalie Dessay has done one thing pretty much better than anyone else out there: dance around in the vocal stratosphere and keep a beautiful, blooming sound going. She has also been impressive indeed in seeming to put herself right in front of listeners in a quiet aria, and she's a fine, charismatic stage presence. All these attributes are present on this two-CD collection of Dessay tracks, which is further distinguished by several pages of photos, not of the singer herself, but of the albums from which the tracks are drawn. This is desirable: a collection of hits ideally ought to be a way into the artist's work, not a final step. The fan or the newcomer to Dessay will find a fair sampling of her specialties here: French opera, the Baroque, the bel canto repertory. The thing is, it's not exactly a greatest-hits album. De l'opéra à la chanson includes at the end a set of eight French chansons and popular songs from outside France. These seem to be intended to pave the way for Dessay's second career as a chanson singer, since she retired from the operatic stage in 2013. There's no telling whether this will work: she seems aware of the challenges, and she adds a nice huskiness to her voice in the French material. At this point there's no real reason to listen to her singing Cole Porter, and her somewhat reedy middle register, also apparent in the Incarnatus from Mozart's Mass in C minor, K. 427, doesn't exactly suit her to popular music. So the collection is a bit of a mixed bag, but it is never dull, and for the most part it's a fair representation of one of the great singers of our age.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Cantate "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen", BWV 51
1 5:17
Dixit dominus, HWV 232
2 3:29
3 5:16
Messe en ut mineur, K. 427
4 7:35
5 4:35
Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
6 6:54
7 3:04
Carmina Burana
8 2:11
9 3:07
10 4:06
Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
11 4:53
12 3:25
13 6:46
14 3:06
15 3:07
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
16 3:24
17 4:12
18 3:48
blue highlight denotes track pick