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Debussy – Songs Volume 2

Fetes Galantes I; Proses Lyriques; Chansons de Bilitis; Ariettes Oubliees; Trois Chansons de France; Trois Poemes de Mallarme

Lorna Anderson & Lisa Milne – sopranos
Malcolm Martineau - piano

Hyperion CDA67883, Recorded 2011, 67 minutes

Hyperion have long been the champions of complete editions of individual composers’ works, and this CD marks the second volume in their Debussy Songs collection.

In this they have set themselves a stiff task.  Debussy is probably regarded as the quintessential composer of French Melodie and, as such, his songs are very well represented in the catalogues, most often anthologised with those of his contemporaries. 

There is much to be said for devoting a full hour to Debussy alone, and this CD contains a good mix of the familiar and not so familiar.  Malcolm Martineau’s sensitive playing is a sheer delight throughout and both Lorna Anderson and Lisa Milne contribute strongly. 

However, neither is a native French speaker and small subtleties of Gallic nuance are understandably missing.   For example Chansons de Bilitis and Fetes galantes  are included in a recent recording on Virgin Classics (7243 5 45360 2 1) by Veronique Gens and Roger Vignoles and there really is no comparison. No composer paid greater heed to words than Debussy, so I believe this is an important consideration.

So, if you are anxious to build up a complete set of Debussy’s Songs, the Hyperion sequence will serve you admirably, and it comes complete with texts, translations and erudite notes. To enjoy his work in sample form, other collections may prove more satisfying. 

Serena Fenwick