Solo recitals of arias from Handel operas and oratorios are common, so it's a pleasure to hear an album devoted to his duets, particularly when they're performed as well as they are here by soprano Rosemary Joshua and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. Both have had diverse careers, but are known especially for their Baroque roles. Their voices are especially well-matched in weight, and their blend is beautifully warm, but they are each distinctive enough that they retain a strong vocal identity even when singing in close harmony.
Review by Stephen Eddins
Jazz Icons: Sarah Vaughan features the “Divine One” in her prime, wrapping her sultry voice around jazz standards such as “Lover Man”, “Misty” and “I Got Rhythm” and soaring on popular showtunes such as “Over The Rainbow” and “Maria”. One of the greatest voices of the 20th Century, her renditions of songs by Harold Arlen, Leonard Bernstein, Johnny Burke, the Gershwins and Stephen Sondheim are pure diva magic. These three performances demonstrate why Sarah Vaughan is invariably mentioned in the same breath as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
This CD presents the brief but remarkable output of songs by Duparc during his artistic period that was cut short by a nervous affliction. These works are beautifully performed by mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker and baritone Thomas Allen, with sensitive piano accompaniment by Roger Vignoles. The collection opens with Duparc's best known melody, L'invitation au voyage, which is a setting of a text from Baudelaire's Les fleurs du mal. The lovely rolling impressionist piano harmonies are played with exquisite fluidity, as they underscore Walker's velvety and intimate vocals. The Sérénade florentine is an impressionist lullaby to a loved one, delivered with touching emotion by Thomas Allen. Extase, Elégie and Testament show the influence of Wagner, and the Chanson triste is one of Duparc's early, Gounod-style songs. Au pays oú se fait la guerre (1869) is also an early work, but is particularly entrancing with simple modal harmonies and easily perceived song construction. By sensitive use of passing tones in the piano, the harmonies are subtly redefined and the music is extended dramatically toward the end by expressive on-rushes.
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