This is the second recording of Songs with Sally Silver and Richard Bonynge appearing on SOMM, Songs by William Wallace, having been released two years ago ("What an advernturous move it is for a record company to provide listeners with the opportunity to hear songs that have not been committed to disc time and time again." -- IRR, Nov. 13.) In addition, their first disc of Massenet Songs, released on Guild in 2012, was extremely well received ("Silver has a silvery voice, as well as excellent diction. She makes each piece into a little gem; her interpretations are full of colour and clarity. Richard Bonynge's playing is superb." American Record Guide, July 2014). This is amply confirmed also in this new recording. Sally Silver's expressive, pliable voice is indeed perfectly suited to Massenet's songs and the vastly experienced Bonynge accompanies her with great sensitivity and style.
Massenet was one of the most prolific of 19th century French composers. He won the Prix de Rome and became Professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire numbering Charpentier, Chausson and Hahn, among his students. He wrote over 40 stage works and 200 songs full of graceful and charming melodies, in which he not only highlights the voice but also writes expertly for the piano. As before, many of the songs here receive their first recording and are all testament to Massenet's prodigious gift for melody and variety of expression. The songs are interspersed with duets and trios (Christine Tocci mezzo-soprano, Nico Darmanin, tenor). As on the previous disc, they are joined in some of the songs by cellist Gabriella Swallow, one of the most versatile and exciting cellists of her generation.