The Europadisc Review
Marianne Crebassa: Seguedilles
Ben Glassberg, Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano), Stanislas de Barbeyrac (tenor), Alpho...
Whoever said that the age of great singers is dead? Only a few weeks ago we welcomed an outstanding new album of rare Baroque operatic delights from mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre on Erato. Now, from the same label, comes another anthology, of opera and song, from Desandre’s stable-mate and frequent collaborator Marianne Crebassa, another strikingly characterful and accomplished mezzo who has already made a name for herself with a series of critically acclaimed solo discs as well as opera recordings from Mozart and Gluck to Berlioz. Crebassa’s solo... read more
Whoever said that the age of great singers is dead? Only a few weeks ago we welcomed an outstanding new album of rare Baroque operatic delights from mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre on Erato. Now, from the ... read more
Marianne Crebassa: Seguedilles
Ben Glassberg, Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano), Stanislas de Barbeyrac (tenor), Alphonse Cemin (piano), Thibaut Garcia (guitar), Victoire Bunel (mezzo-soprano), Celine Laborie (soprano), Adriana Gonzales (soprano), Choeur du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
Whoever said that the age of great singers is dead? Only a few weeks ago we welcomed an outstanding new album of rare Baroque operatic delights from mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre on Erato. Now, from the same label, comes another anthology, of opera and song, from Desandre’s stable-mate and frequent collaborator Marianne Crebassa, another strikingly characterful and accomplished mezzo who has already made a name for herself with a series of critically acclaimed solo discs as well as opera recordings from Mozart and Gluck to Berlioz. Crebassa’s solo debut, ‘Oh, Boy!’ created quite a stir on its appearance five years ago, with a selection of gender-crossing roles, while her follow-up album of French song, ‘Secrets’ with Fazıl Say, was a Gramophone award winner and one of our Top Ten discs of 2017.
For her latest solo album, Crebassa explores the Hispanic connections of her maternal grandparents with a selection of songs and operatic scenes from French and Spanish composers, supported by pianist Alphonse Cemin as well as the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse under Ben Glassberg. The disc is framed and punctuated by three excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen (what else?): the ever-popular Habanera ‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’ with its introductory chorus, the Séguedille and duet ‘Près des remparts de Séville’, and the Act 2 gypsy song ‘Les tringles des sistres’, all of them sung in an appropriately smoky, teasing and intense tone which suggests the layers of allure and passion that make up this endlessly fascinating operatic character. Crebassa’s focussed sound combined with fluttering vibrato recalls singers of an earlier golden era, and these excerpts really whet the appetite for more.
Just as impressive are Salud’s powerfully moving ‘Vivan los que ríen!’ from de Falla’s La vida breve, and the lighter-toned showiness of Dulcinée’s ‘Quand la femme a vingt ans’ from Massenet’s Don Quichotte. All these excerpts offer the chance to admire Crebassa’s impressive range and vocal dexterity, as well as her gloriously rich and powerful lower register, which suits this music to an absolute tee. Further operatic excerpts include the Act 1 Duo and Séguedille from Offenbach’s light-hearted jewel, La Périchole (again with stylish partnership from tenor Stanislas de Barbeyrac), and Concepción’s exasperated ‘Oh! la pitoyable aventure!’ from Ravel’s comédie musicale, L'Heure espagnole, drawing on the full range of Crebassa’s vocal talents with brilliantly atmospheric support from Glassberg and the Toulouse orchestra.
It is the songs woven between these operatic items, however, that form the heart of this splendidly spirited and moving disc. There’s obvious enjoyment on Crebassa’s part in the ‘Chanson espagnole’ from Ravel’s four Chants populaires, and in the heady excitement of de Falla’s ‘Séguedille’, complete with its cries of ‘Alza! olà!’. Saint-Saëns’s grander version of the Iberian mood in the form of his bolero El desdichado, with orchestral accompaniment and Crebassa duetting hand-in-glove with soprano Adriana González, is a welcome inclusion, as is Massenet’s Nuit d’Espagne, arranged for voice and guitar (Thibaut Garcia in a stylish cameo) by Gabriel Bianco. The disc’s real substance, though, comes with four of Jesús Guridi’s marvellously evocative Six Castilian Folksongs, meltingly sung by Crebassa and greatly enhanced by the delicacy of Cemin’s pliant pianism; and with Mompou’s orchestral song-cycle Combat del somni (‘Dream battle’), whose five songs with their searing emotions, heartfelt vocal lines and magical orchestration, constitute a final late flowering of post-Pelléas Impressionism that’s impossible to resist. Mompou took his time composing this cycle, and the results in Crebassa’s performance are intensely powerful, with Glassberg expertly balancing the exquisite orchestral backdrop.
It’s risky placing such a potent cycle in the centre of a disc like this, but by easing out of it emotionally with Ravel’s ‘Chanson espagnole’ these performers manage it with aplomb. The whole disc is a kaleidoscope of musical and emotional colour, vividly illustrating what Crebassa herself calls the ‘marriage of France and Spain, two interlinked cultures’, revelling in the dance and song of the Iberian Peninsula, but also delving deeper into its psyche with remarkable results. This is yet another witness to Crebassa’s extraordinary artistry, and her many admirers should snap it up without hesitation.
The Spin Doctor Europadisc's Weekly Column
Farewell to Two Musical Greats 26th October 2021
26th October 2021
Last week the world of classical music world lost two of the most outstanding artists of the past 50 years and more.
The greatly respected Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink passed away on 21 October at the great age of 92, just two years after stepping down from the podium. His last concerts, at the head of the Vienna Philharmonic in London and Lucerne, were of music by Beethoven and Bruckner, two composers with whom he had become closely identified over the course of his long career. Born in Amsterdam on 4 March 1929, as a young aspiring musician he had grown up watching the great Willem Mengelberg at the helm of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and after studying conducting under Ferdinand Leitner, from the mid-1950s he formed an association with the Netherlands Radio Union Orchestra (later the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic), becoming its chief conductor in 1957. Following... read more