If Sandrine Piau is aging, then nobody has passed the message on to her voice. The French soprano sounds as fresh and ravishing now as she ever has – and this new disc is another pearl in her exceptional solo discography.
In line with the title, a dreamlike air pervades this selection of French, German and English songs. Piau’s iridescent soprano, underpinned by the limpid, evocative playing of her regular recital partner Susan Manoff, is ideally suited to the magic (and often the melancholy) of this music. Her voice’s natural shimmer becomes a fully-fledged glow in the Richard Strauss selections which open the disc – Piau’s rendition of the oft-recorded Morgen! could stand with the best of them – and of course she’s especially at ease in the French repertoire. Phrases floated sweetly in the air are her particular talent, but there’s no lack of expressive variety here.
With unfailing sensitivity and elegant phrasing, she conveys the rapid cynicism of Poulenc’s Fêtes galantes as easily as the stillness of Mendelssohn’s Schlafloser Augen Leuchte or the rapture of Chausson’s Amour d’antan.
The Galgenlieder (Gallows Songs) of contemporary composer Vincent Bouchot are a delightful surprise, and Piau renders them in vivid, memorable colour. And while the Britten arrangements may seem a curious conclusion, their simplicity is a perfect fit, with Piau’s delivery just French enough to give these very English songs an extra dash of romance.