Marianne Crebassa / Fazil Say

Secrets: French Songs

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The "secrets" denoted by the title of this release on the increasingly productive Erato/Warner Classics are not repertory items, but the inner thoughts inspired by the music for mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa; the pieces on the are mostly well-known French mélodies. The exception is the final piece, composed by accompanist Fazil Say (who elsewhere has a remarkable quiet edge) and depicting the suppression of protests in Istanbul's Gezi Park, which is a bit out of place; perhaps it was felt that the program would be too conventional otherwise. No matter. The star of the show here is Crebassa's voice: a classic French song instrument, rounded, with abundant, yet precisely deployed vibrato on the longer notes, with the uvular "r" that French singers grow up with, but others struggle to replicate. Then, something's added: a hint of smoke that brings the songs out of the salon and into the wider world. It's a quality that singers develop over time (sometimes, in France especially, with actual cigarette smoke), but to hear it birthed full-grown is a rare and delicious experience. This is not to say that Crebassa is a vocal machine insensitive to text. Sample Henri Duparc's Au pays ou se fait la guerre, with its war-is-hell-on-the-home-front text by Théophile Gautier, and you hear a sensitive reading that brings out the underlying seriousness Crebassa is going for. The venue is not French, but Austrian: the Großer Saal at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. But this too supports the expressive goals of a French song recording in which everything comes together.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
3 Chansons de Bilitis
1 2:26
2 3:07
3 2:54
Shéhérazade
4 8:43
5 2:59
6 3:15
3 Mélodies
7 2:11
8 2:48
9 1:31
10 2:54
Mirages Op. 113
11 3:23
12 4:16
13 2:46
14 2:12
15 5:04
16 3:16
17 2:56
18 3:05
19 9:24
blue highlight denotes track pick