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As the sensual centrepiece of an album of 20th century French vocal masterpieces, Renée Fleming makes her first-ever recording of Ravel’s ravishing Shéhérazade.
Complementing Shéhérazade is Olivier Messiaen’s collection of love songs to his young wife, the Poèmes pour Mi – a tour de force of voluptuous vocalism.
A trio of major works is completed by one written for Renée Fleming by the doyen of French composers, Henri Dutilleux – his dramatic Le Temps l’horloge.
The album is completed by two earlier songs by Dutilleux, specially-orchestrated for this album and recorded in the presence of the composer.
“In Shéhérazade , she revealed how marvelously her voice is maturing . . . Fleming seemed to lose both pretense and herself in Ravel’s erotic never-never land” (Los Angeles Times)
2. La Flûte Enchantée
Messiaen: Poemes Pour Mi
1. Action De Grâces
3. La Maison
6. Ta Voix
7. Les Deux Guerriers
8. Le Collier
9. Prière Exaucée
Dutilleux: Deux Sonnets De Jean Cassou
Il n’y avait que des troncs déchirés
J’ai rêvé que je vous portais entre mes bras
Dutilleux: Le Temps L'Horloge
Le Dernier Poème
16th February 2012
“[in the Ravel] she revels in the storytelling...her warm, voluptuous tones soaring ecstatically up into the most hedonistic climaxes, and carrying effortlessly over the orchestra even when in her softest lower-tessitura pianissimo....It’s the Dutilleux cycles that work best of all though, nodding as they do to all of Fleming’s vocal and expressive strengths...the vocal lines themselves playing to the warmth and elasticity of her upper register.”
8th March 2012
“Renée Fleming's latest album reminds us that we pigeonhole her at our peril...Her artistry...can be formidable: she makes Shéhérazade sound faintly indecent; Poèmes pour Mi taxes her a bit, but is suitably ecstatic. But it's in the Dutilleux that we find her at her considerable best. It's worth acquiring just for that.”
9th March 2012
“Fleming claims that singing in French suits her voice naturally, which is clear on this album...Her involvement with the intoxications of Ravel's Shéhérazade is obvious, the journey into this "forest filled with mystery" navigated with an enchantment little short of thrilling. Messiaen's Poèmes Pour Mi proves
the perfect partner for Shéhéraza”
11th March 2012
“Given that Fleming celebrated 50 years in 2009...the state of her voice is cause for wonderment. The plush, peachy tone, her trademark, sounds unimpaired by the years...The American soprano justifiably revels in the sound of her own voice. If there have been more Gallic Shéhérazades on disc, none is more beautifully sung.”
The Arts Desk
24th March 2012
“Fleming’s immaculate French diction is an asset, and Dutilleux’s luminous orchestral colours gleam under Seiji Ozawa’s direction. No effect is overplayed...Good to see that a major label is still willing to promote high-quality, offbeat repertoire – snap this disc up before it gets deleted.”
“Always a strong Francophile, she makes an inspired exploration for the still-developing French tradition...it is easy to hear what inspired [Dutilleux]...Her lower register has become ever-richer toned, yet fluid, while higher up her silken soprano remains undiminished...Fleming is utterly ravishing in Ravel's Sheherazade, and her performance of Messiaen's Poemes pour Mi is sensational.”
“The outstanding item in this French collection is the first recording of Dutilleux's Le temps l'horloge. The short cycle of four songs with interlude was composed with Renee Fleming's voice specifically in mind and she revels in its rapturous lyricism...Fleming's soprano soars and dips, hinting at great truth always just out of reach.”
7th April 2012
“Shéhérazade finds Fleming in seductive voice...Dutilleux provides an appealing series of soundworlds that suits the warm sumptuousness of her voice.”
“Fleming is at her considerable best in [the Dutilleux], with her voice sounding rich and wonderfully flexible...the Dutilleux makes this an important release that will be an essential purchase for many French music enthusiasts”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.