Voices are funny things. However great a musician a singer may be, if the voice sets your teeth on edge, you’ll have no hope of enjoying the performance. Benjamin Britten’s partner and favourite tenor, Peter Pears, suffered from a very nasal sound that many people couldn’t bear to listen to, in spite of his exquisite musical interpretation. I have the same problem with Gérard Souzay, master of the mélodie who, being French, had a very French voice, with the kind of vibrato you can crack concrete with. I’ve never been able to listen to him for pleasure.
Anyway, the point here is that I have a sudden and determined longing to introduce you to a lovely song that has almost been frustrated by the limitations of youtube. The only truly great performance it provides is the one by M. Souzay, and I’m almost certain you’ll be completely turned off by him. So I’ve been forced to turn, instead, to Katia Ricciarelli, who you’ve already heard singing the duet from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, but whose Italian operatic voice is a just a bit too sciroppo d’acero for this Fauré song, which barely needs a dusting of icing sugar, and rather more youthful charm than Signorina Ricciarelli can provide. But what to do? It’s the best version I can find for now, and the song is a delight.