Renée Fleming - Poemes. 2012. Ravel: Scheherazade, Messiaen: Poemes pour Mi, Dutilleux: Le temps l´horloge.
At this point of her career, I´d say that original writing on a Renée Fleming release is virtually impossible. Unless, of course, her performance on this disc is different from her usual type of performance. Or her voice/her interpretation is different from what she showed us on her last disc. Which it isn´t really.
Yes, she has, or rather she had one of the most glorious lyric voices of this century. Yes, she is somewhat past her vocal prime easily proven by listening to her recordings up through the 1990´s and early 2000, such as those with Solti. And yes, her vocal style is quite specific and either you like it or you don´t, in which case you´d call her singing mannered. All of this has been pointed out previously by myself and others, and more than once..
However, all this taken into account, some of her releases are still better than others. And this present CD is probably the best I have heard from her in years. Not the least due to the repertoire presented, which is quite simply excellent. And as for style, she is far less mannered, you may say, than she is on her recent Richard Strauss recording with Christian Thielemann.
Yes, there are better recordings of Scheherazade, among the more recent Veronique Gens and Magdalena Kozena, on the market. Also, Poemes pour Mi have been better done though not excessively recorded: Anne Schwanewilms as well as Francoise Bollet with Pierre Boulez in the orchestral version as well as Susanna Philips with the piano version are all superior to Renée Fleming.
Dutilleux´ 14-minutes song cycle is written for herself, and as this is a world premiere recording, there obviously is no competition, but Fleming nevertheless impresses in this work with impressionistic qualities.
However, because of Renée Flemings status this will probably be a benchmark recording within this repertoire, especially the Poemes pour Mi, which really is an exceptional song cycle deserving to be performed much, much often.
Renée Fleming, Poemes trailer:
Overall impression (scale of 1-5, 3=average):