You might gravitate toward French singers in this repertory, but to overlook this release of French Impressionist orchestral songs sung by German soprano Christiane Karg would be a serious error. For one thing, she hits some rather unusual repertory; the Quatre chansons françaises of the teenaged Benjamin Britten are already characteristic, but quite rare, and the big orchestrations of Debussy's Le Livre de Baudelaire by none other than John Adams are also unusual, making a perfect foil for the transcendent Baudelaire settings of Henri Duparc at the end. And the main attractions are Karg's voice and interpretations themselves. Her singing in Ravel's Shéhérazade sets the tone for the whole, mixing just a bit of sultriness into these radiant evocations of the global East. Start sampling right at the beginning, with Karg's riveting reading of Asie (Asia), surely one of the most intense on recordings. Karg moves over the course of the program from dreamy to sensual to, in the Duparc, almost mystically beautiful, and the shades of her approach are followed faithfully by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under David Afkham. The sound is distinctive, with BR Klassik opting for the Konzerthalle Bamberg and miking Karg close up, catching her effective occasional use of a low, breathy tone in these sometimes highly sensuous texts. A real joy, and a major step for this artist who has recorded French repertory only occasionally in the past.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Le Livre de Baudelaire Four songs from Debussy's "Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire"|
|Quatre chansons françaises|
|Trois Mélodies Op. 17/3|