Enesco, Roussel: Chansons et mélodies

Sept chansons de Clément Marot op.15. Roussel Odes Anacréontiques, opp.31-2; Deux mélodies op.20: Jazz dans la nuit op.38; Deux poèmes chinois op.12; Deux poèmes chinois op.35: A flower given to my daughter; Light op. 19 no.1 ;  Quatre poèmes op.8 nos.1, 4. Yolanda Marculescu (sop), Katja Phyllabaum (pf)

Saga's urge for adventure can make for real dis­coveries. This excursion traverses some unfamiliar terrain. Enesco's Marot settings sound like a buffer state between the lied and the mélodie, very agreeably cultivated but rather neutral. Roussel, in contrast, is not only French but actively expansionist, establishing one enclave in Spain (Le bachelier de Salamanque op.20 no.2) and four in China (the songs of opp.12 and 35). There is even one corner of an Eng. Lit. field that is for ever foreign, thanks to his very Gallic setting of James Joyce. Here Yolanda Marculescu's English phonemes are no help to repatriation. But her French (the rest of the recital) is sensitively articulated and phrased, and so is her singing.She can be a little too casual about significant detail; thus her breathing while “les bourgeois dormant” in Le bachelier disturbs the expressive sleep of the deliberately drawn-out vocal line. Again, not all the note values are scrupulously observed. But the musical values are; and the result is pure gain. Katja Phyllabaum's piano playing is a great asset. A good example of their intuitive ensemble is offered by the joint Réponse d'une épouse sage from op.38, where the notes of resig­nation and regret are sounded and touched with real feeling. The frail patterns of Roussel's China are most delicately traced and coloured; and such artistry suffuses the entire disc. So it is doubly a pity that this Saga is textually defective, in the great British tradition of foreign song recording. The translations though adequate are not enough. There are no French texts; and the alignment of Joyce's lyric is a slovenly muddle.


The Musical Times, Aug. 1976