Dessay first became known to audiences as an operatic soprano. She performed roles such as The Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Violetta in Verdi’s “La traviata,” and the title character in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor.” She has recorded dozens of albums since 1994, including complete operas as well as arias and other works by Claudio Monteverdi, George Frederic Handel, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Richard Strauss and Michel Legrand. Her latest album is her first foray into the music of Franz Schubert.
In the album’s liner notes, Dessay recalls hearing Schubert’s songs performed when she was fifteen years old. At the time, she remembers feeling bored and frustrated, “knowing that I’d missed out on something that I considered important and beautiful but that I couldn’t understand.” Teenaged Dessay told herself that her understanding of Schubert would come later in life. It did (she is now in her early 50s), and the result is this album.
The new album contains 16 Schubert songs (also called lieder). Dessay performs some of Schubert’s best-known songs, such as “Gretchen am Spinnrade,” “Erlkönig” and “Du bist die Ruh.” She is also joined by clarinetist Thomas Savy for a performance of “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen.”
On the album, Dessay collaborates with pianist Philippe Cassard. In the album’s liner notes, Cassard remarks, “Once under the Schubert spell, you never want to be cured of it!”