I may have been a tad harsh on the new release by ‘America’s leading diva’ (this seems to be the correct mode of address), but I’d rather err on the side of asperity than drown in mush like some of the first print reviewers.
This is Andy Gill in the Independent:
Renée Fleming claims that singing in French suits her voice naturally, which is clear on this album of poetic settings by Ravel, Messiaen and Dutilleux.
So we take her at her own estimation – do we, Andy? He then affirms to readers that her involvement with the intoxications of Ravel’s Shéhérazade is obvious. Oh, give us a break.
Tim Ashley in the Guardian lavishes four stars on the record before informing us that the disc also has its share of problems … and you are conscious of differences in balance, acoustic and the quality of Fleming’s voice.
So which it it, Tim: highly recommendable, or so variable as to be the car-wreck of a record that I described?
In L’Express, Bernard Dermoncourt confirms my impression that Ms Fleming needs to work on her French and might project her words a bit better: la prononciation française de la soprano américaine est parfois perfectible: le mot est trop souvent caché par le son.
We await, with bated breath, the onslaught of American media praise.
Meantime, decide for yourselves.