A Master-Class in Poetic Nuance from Seemingly Modest Songs

07/02/2018

Canteloube, Dvořák, Falla, Barber, Bernstein, Dove: Jennifer Johnson Cano (mezzo-soprano), Christopher Cano (piano), Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 31.1.2018. (BJ)

CanteloubeChants d’Auvergne (selection): ‘L’Antouèno’, ‘La delaïssádo’, ‘Lou coucut’
DvořákZigeunermelodien Op.55
FallaSiete canciones populares españolas
Barber – Three Songs Op.10: ‘Rain has fallen’, ‘Sleep now’, ‘I hear an army’
Bernstein – Three songs from West Side Story: ‘One Hand, One Heart’, ‘Somewhere’, ‘I Have a
Love’
DoveThree Tennyson Songs: ‘O Swallow, Swallow’, ‘Dark House’, ‘The Sailor-boy’

What promised, on paper, to be a relatively undemanding and domestically based evening of lightweight songs turned, in the event, into a musical experience of close to epic seriousness.

The winner of several important awards, St. Louis native Jennifer Johnson Cano has appeared more than 100 times at the Metropolitan Opera since winning the company’s auditions in 2008. It was immediately evident in the evening’s opening group from the Songs of the Auvergne that she is possessed of a mezzo-soprano voice that combines tonal beauty with at times awe-inspiring power. She wields it with the utmost smoothness. And it became clear from the rest of a program that ranged linguistically from those songs’ Occitan texts, by way of German and Spanish, to the English set by Barber, Bernstein, and the 58-year-old London-born Jonathan Dove, that her care for clarity and expressiveness of diction is unremitting, and extends to an unusually precise yet delicate way with final “r”s.

While all these qualities revealed the widely differing musical characters of the cleverly chosen repertoire she was singing, her husband, Christopher Cano, was no whit less impressive in his command of the keyboard, responding to his scores with frequently dazzling strength of tone and lucidity of texture. Altogether the recital was something of a master-class in the realization of poetic nuance. As absorbing as the other composers’ texts were, Dove’s Tennyson poems, especially ‘O Swallow, Swallow’, instantly lifted the quality of the literary discourse to a strikingly higher level.  An enthusiastic ovation from the audience was rewarded, by way of encore, with John Jacob Niles’s ‘Go ‘way from my window’, performed, again, with compelling understanding and skill.

Bernard Jacobson

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF) 2018 Celebrates its Eighth Year __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Chess at the London Coliseum from 26 April for 5 Weeks __________________________________
  • NEW! The Three Choirs Festival 2018: A Preview __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Season at the Royal Opera House __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018 Cheltenham Music Festival – 30 June to 15 July __________________________________
  • NEW! Staatsoper Unter de Linden in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! St Petersburg Ballet Theatre Bring Swan Lake to London in August __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces its 2018-19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018-19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Booking Open for Longborough Festival Opera 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Additional Tickets Now Available for Nevill Holt Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Four-Day Celebration of Art Song in April 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere by Novaya Opera of Pushkin – The Opera in the Theatre in the Woods __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! A First Charity Classical Music Concert at Finchcocks on 27 May __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella in Cinemas on 15 May with Live Q&A __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! Newly Discovered Song by Alma Mahler to be Performed in Oxford and Newbury __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month