'La Bonne Chanson' by mezzosoprano Anne Sophie Von Otter is the kind of album I really enjoy from today's great female classic vocalists. Next to interpretations of Kurt Weill's German works, the French art song is by far my favorite. It sounds less stilted than the English chamber song and far less heavy than the German Lieder from Shubert and his compatriots. It is neck and neck in my mind with good interpretations of Italian love songs.
I was fortunate to be able to compare this album with the Dawn Upshaw effort, 'The Girl With Orange Lips', on which she performs Ravel's 'Trois Poemes de Stephane Mallarme', which also open Von Otter's disk. I have to say that on these pieces, the two artists sound virtually identical, although Von Otter has just the slightest greater strength and authority in her voice. Picking between the two on these pieces would require a fair coin toss.
On the other hand, Von Otter's other material on this disk is far better than the material on Upshaw's disk, even though they also share performances of Maurice Delage's 'Quatre Poemes hindous'.
Von Otter's performances of Poulenc's 'Rapsodie negre' and Gabriel Faure's 'La Bonne Chanson' are especially good at having me sit up and take notice.
This is especially more enjoyable than her celebrated recordings of Edvard Grieg's songs.