Gabriel Fauré’s music, its vocal line so perfectly bonded to Paul Verlaine’s poetry and its piano accompaniments so exquisitely expressive of the underlying emotions that lie just below the surface of the words, make each of the nine songs in La Bonne Chanson nothing short of perfect, the poet and his composer perfectly marrying their intentions.
Thomas Meglioranza’s voice is ideally suited to French music. With Bernac and Souzay long gone I would challenge those who love French mélodie to find a baritone with a voice as supple, as clear, as beautiful singing this repertoire.
Beyond the mere technical requirements necessary to sing this music, Meglioranza brings to his work an uncanny ability to change the color of his voice while maintaining at all times a well-phonated vocal emission.
Reiko Uchida not merely accompanies but perfectly partners Meglioranza providing superb support with enormous sensitivity. Playing on an 1890 Pleyel that Fauré himself would have contentedly played on, Uchida proves one more time to be an ideal accompanist: attentive, independent when needed, in total technical command at all times.
These two artists convey a huge range of emotions as they wend their way through Fauré’s songs, later still giving life to Verlaine’s poetry in Debussy’ second set of Fétes Galantes, infusing those three songs with a darker pianistic and vocal coloration.
All of this seemingly happens spontaneously, never evidencing any manipulation, any changing of gears, nor any superimposing of interpretive superficiality on the music.
Poulenc’s Chansons gaillardes can tax a baritone not equipped with pristine diction and up and down the range comfort. Meglioranza has both, and he makes the most of Poulenc’s naughty musical humor and the often randy texts of the songs.
Maurice Ravel’s densely chromatic Déux epigrammes calls for unflagging legato and accuracy, again two assets our singer brings to the music.
Meglioranza opts for a whimsical ending rather than a big finish by programming Francis Poulenc’s Le Bestiaire to close his CD of French song. Guillaume Apollinaire’s six minimalistic gems make their point by inference and irony, rather than emphasis on the brittle vignettes about fauna. Thomas Meglioranza sings his Poulenc and his Ravel and his Fauré and his Debussy with plenty of panache, beaucoup style and sheer vocal beauty.
Unlike the great German song cycles, Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson and much of Ravel and Poulenc’s mélodies are all about the redemptive joys of love and its beatific accompaniments: sunlight, moonlight, spring, nighttime, trust, and safety. What a gift it is to have so much of that in THE GOOD SONG.
Judith Sherman engineered this CD, assisted by Jeanne Velonis, with excellent results.
The album is available from CD Baby as a physical CD as well as a download.
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/thomasmeglioranza3 It’s also on iTunes and in most of the streaming services.
Rafael de Acha http://www.Rafael’sMusicNotes.com