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<<  -- 2 --  John Bell Young    Immeasurably sophisticated

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But he is just as much at home in the gossamer, lighthearted songs such as Voyage à Paris and the mercurial Paganini. Not a word is wasted as he underlines both the structural function and textual implications of every syllable. In the wistful, indescribably elegant Hotel, where Poulenc evokes a daydream, a moment of abstraction inspired by a puff of cigarette smoke illuminated by a glimmer of sunlight, Mr Sperry is perfection. In the minute and a half it takes to sing, he ushers us into a world of tender perspectives and isolated regrets. Elsewhere, in Les chemins de l'amour, Mr Sperry wraps us comfortingly in the soulful embrace of this song of love, giving us to feel that, in spite of all the troubles of the day, everything will be all right.

Now in his sixties, Mr Sperry's voice has lost something of its once youthful sheen, but what he has gained in its place is so immeasurably sophisticated, ardent and artistic as to render any vocal compromises insignificant. Poulenc's songs are pristine studies in musical characterization. Mr Sperry is not only up to the challenge, but transcends it in these consistently magical performances. Ian Hobson proves an ideal collaborator, his playing at once thoughtful, deftly characterized and wholly idiomatic.

Copyright © 27 February 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA

 

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