Fête Galante, a 1999 release featuring soprano Karina Gauvin and pianist Marc-André Hamelin, won numerous awards, and the outstanding performances on this 2011 reissue confirm how well-deserved those honors were. Gauvin has an exceptional voice – clarion-bright, warm, confident, and agile, with a variegated palette of colors – and her effortlessly incisive interpretive skills give depth and life to everything she sings. The distinctiveness and character she brings to these songs show a terrific grasp of the genre of the mélodie, from the late 19th century songs by Fauré and the young Debussy to the mid-20th works by Poulenc, Honegger, and Émile Vuillermoz. The CD demonstrates her range with the zany comedy of Poulenc's "Paganini" followed immediately by the intensely poignant multi-layered sadness of the composer's profound "C." Throughout, Gauvin's tone is ravishingly pure and she soars gloriously in the more lyrical songs.
From the start of his intermittent side career as a jazz pianist, esteemed conductor and composer Andre Previn has shown more feeling for the form than most classical artists who cross over. Going beyond a recreational involvement in improvised music, he has deepened his playing since skimming stylistic surfaces on his bestselling My Fair Lady album of nearly 50 years ago. Now 78, he gives us what may be his most satisfying jazz recording in Alone: Ballads for Solo Piano. The solo format allows him to reflect his debt to piano masters including Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, and Bud Powell in ways his work with trios and combos hasn't, while showing off his super-refined lyrical touch with its sophisticated sense of color.
After the release of 1982's Livin' in the New Wave, André Cymone wrote and produced four songs that appeared on Evelyn "Champagne" King's Face to Face, including "Teenager," a Top 30 Billboard Black Singles hit. For his second solo album, Cymone put aside his one-man band approach and utilized his touring group. Guitarist Bobby Dean (three songs) and drummer John "Bam Bam" Morgan (two songs), along with keyboardists Craig Thomas, André Cumne, and Linda Rennae (Cymone's sister), all contributed, though electronic gear is so dominant that the material actually sounds more like the work of one or two individuals with occasional background vocals.