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Pianist Ińaki Encina Oyón came to discover the songs of Robert Dussaut (1896-1969) and Hélène Covatti (1910-2005) through his teacher, Thérèse Covatti, the couple’s daughter. Oyón noticed the manuscripts stacked atop her piano and found that it was a mountain of her parents’ music that Thérèse was struggling to assemble into some form of order and save from oblivion, and that she had never heard performed. Oyón became involved in helping to organise and edit everything, and at one point showed the songs to the young Guatemalan soprano Adriana González, leading to performances in concert and ultimately this album.

Dussaut and Covatti composed their songs during the interwar period, Dussaut over about a decade and his wife a little longer. What gems they are, and how lucky we are to get the chance to hear them. They are generally grouped, though with no particular theme, and set elegant texts with appropriate musical sophistication – most are short, ravishing tone poems of about two or three minutes. If you enjoy French song you will love these, and they are stunningly performed. Oyón doesn’t take a back seat but unfolds each introduction with care. González is simply stunning. I haven’t been so enthusiastic about a young soprano for a long time. Her voice has warmth and a delicious glow, plus a wonderful sense of spin to the line – she always sings within the comfortable limits of the phrase, never forcing it, generally keeping her tone covered apart from the occasional moment of thrill. She uses a range of colours and dynamics and relishes the texts, and she and Oyón interact stylishly. González’ singing of the Pater Noster, a fragment adapted from Dussaut’s opera La fontaine de Pristina, is a lesson in legato.

I hope that other singers take these songs into their repertoire, and I would love to hear more from Oyón and Gonzalez if they record other composers.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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