V2322. SUSAN GRAHAM, w.Malcolm Martineau (Pf.): Messager, Debussy, Poulenc, Simons, Hahn, Brahms, Berg, Mahler & Ben Moore. Warner 60293, Live Performance, 14 April, 2003. Final sealed copy! - 825646029327
“Through her recital discs Susan Graham has been revealing different facets of her character. Now, for her first disc on Warner Classics proper, we get a rounded portrait: this live recording of her Carnegie Hall recital in April ranges from the high seriousness of German Lieder to a final encore where she lets her hair down. No dead studio atmosphere here, nothing to be gained from caution – just the singer in front of her responsive audience.
Her voice catches a restless fast vibrato in the early part of the programme, but that is receding by the time she reaches Berg’s ‘Seven Early Songs’. Malcolm Martineau’s playing is a boon here, setting speeds at which the sense of the music flows in paragraphs. Again, the singing is light and clean, quick with intelligence.
As might be expected, the French side of the recital is a delight. Susan Graham’s mezzo has the light touch for the French repertoire and Martineau is in his element, regularly lighting upon the subtlest of colours. They allow themselves some space in Debussy’s ‘Proses lyriques’, but they do not abuse it. In ‘Dè greve’ the skittish, girly playfulness of the waves and the darkness of the gathering storm are held in a judicious balance. The mood of the Poulenc group is nicely urbane. The two Messager solos revisit familiar ground with happy results.
After all this the audience demanded four encores and will have been glad they stayed. The Hahn and Debussy are delicious, the Mahler is super-sensitive, and as for Ben Moore’s wicked ‘Sexy Lady’, a high-camp cabaret number about mezzos in trouser roles that brings the house down – what can one say? I just hope David Daniels does not sue.”
- Richard Fairman, GRAMOPHONE, 2003