Karina Gauvin: Metallic Gown, Voice Like Gold

United StatesUnited States Dvořák , Britten, Beethoven: Karina Gauvin (soprano), Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra,  Jeffrey Kahane (conductor), UCLA Royce Hall, Los Angeles, 16.10.2011  (LV)

Dvořák: Nocturne in B major, Op. 40
Britten: Les Illuminations
Britten: Now sleeps the crimson petal
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, Eroica

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra - Photo Credit:Ken Hively

Karina Gauvin is destined to become a legend. She has a voice like liquid gold, and she moves with the music as if she were a character in a play. Ensconced in a tight-fitting metallic sheath for this concert with Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Gauvin sold it all with a look that said “Mae West brought up to date and put into shape, but still wearing those medieval high-bosomed gowns.”

Gauvin sang Britten’s Rimbaud-inspired tour de force with a streak of feminine sexuality so pure that memories of the cultivated tenor voice of Peter Pears (for whom Britten wrote the music) were simultaneously evoked and then erased. Gauvin’s sweet version of the pretty, rarely-heard song to a Tennyson lyric was a graceful encore. As an added bonus, the ensemble played Britten freshly, unafraid, and found virtue in the music’s simplicity.

I had heard mumbling about how good the orchestra was sounding this season. The mumbling should be a shout. Music director Jeffrey Kahane and his exceptional musicians provide Los Angeles with a compelling alternative to the Philharmonic. Perhaps they could spark interest in the classical music world if they settled the matter by facing off in Royce Hall.

The concert began with Dvořák’s intoxicated Nocturne which the orchestra stretched out in transparent strands of line and color, adding sounds of rustic humor. Due to a prior commitment, I was unable to stay for the Beethoven.

Laurence Vittes