The result of a long-awaited collaboration between coloratura soprano Marianne Lambert and pianist Julien LeBlanc, the young lyrical artist’s debut album Mélodies passagères brings together vocal works by Samuel Barber, Maurice Delage, Enrique Granados, Georges Bizet, Jules Massenet, Léo Delibes, Émile Paladilhe, and Calixa Lavallée. Mainly organized around three cycles of melodies dealing with themes of evanescence and exoticism, the opus evolves in a narrative framework evoking travel and escape, taking as a starting point Barber’s eponymous cycle which gives the album its name. Preceded by the sweet Psyche of Paladilhe, Barber’s sensitively rendered, imaginative melodies invite us to dream with their enigmatic and ethereal sounds, and open in an evocative way this journey towards a mysterious elsewhere.
It’s truly in the portion of the album dedicated to the representation of oriental and Iberian exoticism that the finesse of LeBlanc’s lyrical playing and Lambert’s interpretive talent are displayed. Delage’s Quatre poèmes hindous are of a bewitching and mysterious colour, where vocal and pianistic lines intertwine to create tense and colourful sounds. More conventional in aesthetic terms for the genre, Bizet’s Les adieux de l’hôtesse arabe retains this same tension with the sweep of a haunting piano motif and seductive vocal arabesques. The only Spanish-language cycle on the album, Canciones amatorias by Granados, the composer’s masterpiece of melody is among his finest moments. The festive and dazzling vocal flights are wonderfully combined with Lambert’s shimmering timbre. The three Spaniards, Léo Delibes, Jules Massenet ,and Calixa Lavallée, with their irresistibly melismatic character, conclude this musical journey.