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

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Sergei Polunin and Friends at London Palladium 28 May – 1 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Elgar Festival in Worcester from 30 May to 2 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! YOUNG RUSSIAN PIANIST ALEXANDRA DOVGAN TALKS TO GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month