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|Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, Alban Berg|
Susan Graham at Carnegie Hall
Genres: Pop, Classical
Susan Graham has firmly established herself as one of our leading mezzos in opera and recital. Her voice, infinitely varied, perfectly focused, and produced, has the mellow glow of burnished bronze, but at the top she narr... more »
Susan Graham has firmly established herself as one of our leading mezzos in opera and recital. Her voice, infinitely varied, perfectly focused, and produced, has the mellow glow of burnished bronze, but at the top she narrows her vibrato to give it a brighter, more intense quality. This live recording of her Carnegie Hall concert last April combines total vocal control with the spontaneity and excitement of a performance--complete with audience reactions--and displays her stylistic versatility, her charm, expressiveness, and communicative projection to brilliant advantage. The program features two German song cycles and several groups from her signature French repertoire. Brahms' "Gypsy Songs," one of his numerous Hungarian-influenced compositions, use texts derived from Hungarian folksongs and deal essentially with love and yearning. Graham captures all their changing moods, from melancholy to exuberance, making the last one soar ecstatically, but sometimes loses their simplicity in mannerisms and over-inflection. Alban Berg's "Seven Early Songs" on texts by various poets, written long before he became an atonalist, are super-romantic, amorous, dramatic; only the two final ones harbor hints of his future style. They are sung with rapturous inwardness. Four songs by Debussy on his own descriptive, pensive verses are calm, dreamy, mellow, caressing; four by Poulenc on poems of Apollinaire are satirical parodies; one is a bravura patter-song. Two songs by André Messager and one by Moises Simons, taken from their operettas, are basically cabaret songs and grand fun; they give Graham a fine opportunity to show the lighter side of her artistry. The encores include a serious song by Reynaldo Hahn, a humorous one by Debussy, Mahler's "Liebst du um Schönheit," a love song he wrote for his wife, and the first performance of a song written for Susan Graham by Ben Moore: a hilarious spoof on the fate of a mezzo condemned to sing trouser roles--with quotes from them--when she longs to be a "Sexy Lady." --Edith Eisler
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Susan Graham is a True Recitalist
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though not usually one for true live recordings that include audience applause and response, SUSAN GRAHAM AT CARNEGIE HALL works well on every level. Not only is she in top form (as is her collaborator Malcolm Martineau at he piano) vocally and interpretatively, she demonstrates here an obvious rapport with her audience that is magical.
The repertoire here could not be more varied - and successful in every portion of this recital. Graham's voice has that ability to move from her usual mezzo soprano range into the lyric/spinto range with the greatest of ease. The Brahms 'Zigeunerlieder' are full of zest and sparkle. The Debussy 'Proses lyriques' are sensually liquid and Graham's French diction is as perfect as it gets: the Poulenc cycle feels so very natural for all its underlying difficulties. The too rarely heard Berg 'Sieben fruhe Lieder' are elegant and involved and the Messanger and Simons highlight Graham's ease of strolling through unknown works, making them sound so familiar.
Encores are included and for once "thank goodness!" Susan Graham has a special affinity for Reynaldo Hahn and she has mad 'A Chloris' her very own. For the Mahlerites she offers 'Liebst du um Schonheit' (including a comment to the audience) and a Debussy song and a witty ditty written for her by Ben Moore - just for fun.
The audience fortunate enough to have been present during this live recording on April 14, 2003 have now a living memento. For the rest of us that magic is fully contained on this very special recording. Grady Harp, December 2004"