Fine performances; wish the texts were included
Barbara Miller | Bellevue, WA United States | 07/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Accompanist Graham Johnson can be counted upon to present thoughtful, intelligent programs, often organized around themes rather than simply collecting songs of a single composer (although he has also done the latter). Lyric soprano Felicity Lott is a frequent collaborator with him, and here the team presents an interesting and very listenable program of settings of the texts of the great French poet Victor Hugo. There are some quite well-known songs in this collection (the Gounod "Serenade" and Hahn's "Si mes vers avaient des ailes"), as well as some welcome rarities (my particular favorite is Saint-Saens' somewhat lengthy and strophic, but very beautiful, "Soiree en mer"). For the most part, this is fine repertoire for Felicity Lott. Her voice is rich enough to provide texture and color to the singing. Her piano singing at the end of Liszt's "Comment disaient-ils" is delicate and secure. My only reservation is that Lott's Spanish style on Bizet's "Guitare" is less convincing than, say Jill Gomez's version on her "Spanish Songbook" CD, but I think her vocal technique is superior. The purpose of this CD is to present the texts of Victor Hugo as set by a variety of talented composers, from Gounod to Wagner to Maude Valerie White. Lott's diction is always clear, which is a good thing, because, while this inexpensive CD includes Graham Johnson's usual excellent notes to the songs (in English, French and German), the texts are not included."