Debussy: Songs Volume 4
Lucy Crowe, it would seem, is the soprano of the hour. I admit, I am biased in her favour after witnessing her glorious 2017 performance in the title role of Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen with the Berlin Philharmonic. I was first dazzled by Crowe in 2011 after listening to her solo debut recording Il Caro Sassone – Handel in Italy. Her top register rang like a bell, and her luscious middle register only hinted at the beautifully rich sound she is capable of producing today. Not only that, Crowe has now reaffirmed that, as in 2011, she is a sensitive and musical performer, and makes intelligent sense of her text whether it be in English, Italian, Czech, or French.
For this fourth instalment of Debussy songs on the Hyperion label, Crowe is accompanied at the piano by Malcolm Martineau, and is joined on occasion by baritone Christopher Maltman, soprano Jennifer France, and harpist Lucy Wakeford. Again, Crowe is by far the standout performer. In Mandoline, Crowe demonstrates her capacity for fast, energetic singing, and her final, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it high C is a lesson in control and precision. Beau Soir, on the other hand, reveals the expansive, beautiful quality Crowe’s lyric instrument. Highly recommended.