Fine champagne fizzing from a French goblet... exquisite use of flirtation's fan behind cocquettish eyes... bitter-sweet laments and sighs over love and life... all with unmistakable French style and elegance. This is how Patricia Petibon has conveyed her performances of these fine baroque French arias.
As a fellow soprano specialising both in early music and other later classical vocal styles, I am extremely fastidious in my likes and dislikes when it comes to singers. When, therefore, I find a singer whose voice, intelligence and musicality produce ravishing quality like this, I am in alt...
In contrast to some of the comments here, I do not find Ms Petibon's voice shrill or white (except when she uses it so deliberately in order to create a particular emotional or stylistic effect). On the contrary, it is of a crystalline purity which she is able to tinge with warmer colours when necessary. I was hugely impressed by this recording, a worthy follow-up to the unbelievably beautiful recording of the Couperin Leçons de tènèbres which was sung by Petibon and Sophie Daneman.
What a sense of fun Patricia Petibon has! It's marvellous to hear baroque music performed with such stylish humour and grace, instead of the tediously uninterpreted choir-boy style which is considered by some to be the "correct" way of singing this type of aria. I listened with particular closeness to the arias from "Armide", which I had just performed myself - and was enchanted by Petibon's singing of them. Even though her voice is light in colour, she is perfectly adept at conveying vengeful hatred, despairing love, and a right royal snarling bad humour!
The accompanying instruments are taut, graceful, and beautifully recorded. The result is a treat to hear.
This CD is most highly recommended by me - and believe me, sopranos are tough critics of each other...!