A surfeit of chansons

christinacarl2Last night Christina Haldane gave her first DMA recital at Walter Hall.  The inspiration was a painting by Manet and the programme was almost entirely made up of chansons from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Offenbach, Charpentier, Duparc, Debussy and Berlioz.  The exception was the cycle The Living Spectacle by Erik Ross which closed out the first half.  I could have used more variation of mood and style.

This is neither my favourite repertory nor the sort of music I have heard Christina sing or associate her with.  My most vivid memory is of her knocking the socks of a Crumb piece when Barbara Hannigan was in town.  So how was last night?  There was some really beautiful singing.  She has a fine instrument that is smooth through the registers with unforced high notes.  She can tell a story and articulate text with perhaps a slight preference for sustained beauty of tone over dramatic effect; understandable enough in this rep.  It’s all extremely controlled and polished.  She just fleetingly showed a darker side in Ross’ The Evil Monk but even this was more langoureux than Gothick.  It’s not a big surprise, the Ross pieces are curiously retro and could easily have been written a hundred years earlier.  Carl Philippe Gionnet was a most idiomatic and sympathetic collaborator at the piano.

So, much more polished than the average student recital, as one might expect.  The lady undoubtedly is a fine singer.  I was though left with the feeling that I had dined on macarons; very fine macarons but rather too many of them.  I’d go back like a shot to hear a sing a different programme!

Photo taken at Le Festival Acadien but it is Gionnet at the piano.

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