- Tristesse de la lune, poem
- Nuit, poem
French mezzo-soprano Isabelle Druet began a rapid ascent to stardom toward the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and her 2011 recital of mélodies, Jardin Nocturne, is her first solo recording since then. It's easy to hear why Druet has been showered with honors like the French Victoires de la musique classique for the most promising young opera singer of 2010, and with leading roles in "Carmen," "Dido and Aeneas," and Lully's "Amadis." She has the kind of voice that makes one sit up and pay close attention. Most obvious are the sumptuous fullness of her silky tone, her pristine intonation, and the fluidity of her legato. Druet's voice retains its warmth and tonal beauty even at the most extreme dynamics and in Berlioz's "Sur les les lagunes," she dips down to the middle of the bass clef with ease and without loss of power or timbral richness. She has absolute control of her vibrato, which she uses with the utmost subtlety and color, and she shapes phrases with the sensitivity and understanding of a natural singer who has the instincts to fully emotionally inhabit what she sings. In the program notes, she writes of her passion for the poetry and that passion is transparently evident in her singing, whether in the exuberance of Berlioz's "L'Ile inconnue," the sinuous sensuality of Massenet's "Nuit d'Espagne," the transcendent serenity of Fauré's "Nocturne," or the soulful intensity of Berlioz's "Le spectre de la rose."" The program of mélodies with nocturnal themes that Druet has put together is simply gorgeous. The album's centerpiece is the original version of "Les nuits d'été" with piano accompaniment to which Druet brings a youthful freshness. The other composers represented include Chausson, Hahn, Poulenc, and the very obscure Fernand Halphen (1872-1917) who, on the basis of the two radiant songs recorded here, fully deserves the revival that Druet hopes to instigate. Pianist Johanne Ralambondrainy provides a splendidly nuanced accompaniment; while playing with plenty of warmth, subtlety, and expressiveness, she brings out individual inner voices with calligraphic clarity. The sound of Aparté's CD is clean, well-balanced, and warmly ambient. Highly recommended; Isabelle Druet is a singer to watch out for.