Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Susan Graham Prom

To the Cadogan Hall yesterday lunchtime for the second Proms Chamber Music event, a recital of French Song by Susan Graham and Malcolm Martineau. The recital was a revision and distillation of the programme of French song which she presented at the Wigmore Hall in February last year (see my blog entry). Some items were the same, she finished with Poulenc's La Dame de Montecarlo, but given Graham's communicativeness the programme was still a delight.

In fact, at times it was less like a song recital and rather more like a series of mini-operas. Martineau and Graham presented us with a wide variety of perfectly crafted but highly coloured and strongly characterised bon bouches; in the intro on the Proms site it is described as a menu gourmand. And like such a menu in a restaurant, I often long for fewer courses, with more time to savour each one.

Graham's virtues are many, but there were moments when I wondered whether she was communicating by visual acting (facial and other physical gestures) rather then via the words. I could not always follow the songs via the words, her diction was not always quite crisp enough. Graham has a superbly lovely voice and sometimes we rather luxuriated in it.

In the middle, the announcer brought Graham and Martineau on stage to introduce the songs and their partnership (now over 10 years old). It made me think that Graham would be a natural for the lecture recital.

Having heard similar programmes, from the same performers, in the Wigmore Hall and the Cadogan Hall I have to confess that I rather prefer the Cadogan Hall's more open, broader atmosphere. Its shape means that the audience seems to be nearer than in the long shoe-box of the Wigmore Hall though this shoebox perhaps means that Wigmore Hall may have the more perfect acoustic.

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