Jodie Devos - And Love Said - Stereophile

Performance 5*
Sonics 4*

Once you hear Belgian soprano Jodie Devos's exceptionally sincere, impeccably phrased, decidedly down-to-earth rendition of Freddie Mercury's "You Take My Breath Away", you'll know why I'm reviewing And Love Said .... Mercury's ballad may be the outlier on this personal, 25-track collection of English-language songs by composers from Belgium, England, and France, but it exemplifies Devos's disarmingly direct and heartfelt approach to song.

Devos's lovely, light soprano, beautiful throughout its range, grows especially enrapturing when she tempers her voice to a silver thread; it's marvelously touching in Frank Bridge's "Come to Me in My Dreams". Devos's renditions of Bridge's "Love Went a-Riding over the Earth" and Roger Quilter's "Love's Philosophy" rival versions by the great Arleen Auger in their ability to convey the thrill of ecstatic love through beauty of sound..

Elsewhere, in songs by Vaughan Williams, Irene Poldowski, Ivor Gurney, Benjamin Britten, Darius Milhaud, William Walton, and Germaine Tailleferre, it's impossible to separate superb musical crafting from the poetic brilliant os Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Auden, Sitwell, Rabindranath Tagore, and others. Milhaud's Two Love Songs, Op.30 may be melodically conventional, but they set Tagore's poetry so beautifully that they call for repeated listening. Some equally compelling songs are intentionally les scrutable including those from Britten's On This Island, Op. 11 which slyly address same-sex love in 1930s England. Even if Nicolas Krüger's piano is set too far back, with too much low-range emphasis, the beauty of it all will sweep you away.

01 April 2021