Classical: Anne Sofie von Otter/Bengt Forsberg

Mots d'Amour, Deutsche Grammophon
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In terms of sheer artisty this is one of von Otter's finest recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. She's in her vocal prime now: soaring, rich tones, remarkable colouring, and an unbeatable sensitivity to language. But what flimsy material to lavish that glorious sound on, and what a bizarre follow-up to her collaboration with Elvis Costello! Despite the defensive sleeve notes of Bengt Forsberg, von Otter's accompanist and Chaminade's champion, and despite Nils-Erik Sparf's fluid, graceful violin playing, the salon songs of Cécile Chaminade – France's most popular fin de siècle composer – are trivial to the point of making Kreisler sound like Bruckner and Bizet sound like Bach. A fascinating glimpse into bourgeois culture at its most cosseted, self-conciously charming, and grossly sentimental. Ideal encore repertoire for an evening of Faure or Satie but not a programme in its own right.