Soaring melodies and underlying rich, exquisite harmonies give 19th- and early 20th-century French songs (“mélodies”) a direct path to our emotions—which is why they can express love so perfectly, so acutely. Sabine Devieilhe and Alexandre Tharaud, voice and piano perfectly balanced, intertwined, take us on an intoxicating journey through myriad states of love. Fauré’s songs are drenched in desire and yearning, including the unrelentingly sunny “Chanson d’amour” itself. Debussy clouds optimism with a portrait of monotony and heartbreak (Ariettes oubliées), the musical language fragile and ambiguous. There’s mischief at play with Poulenc juggling skittishness (“Fêtes galantes”) and the irony of love (‘Les chemins de l’amour’), while Ravel’s perfumed, Greek-inspired songs explore love’s agonies and joyful ecstasies.