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Un frisson française - A century of French song
Susan Graham (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Undoubtedly an ONYX highlight for 2008 is the first recital disc for 5 years by the great American mezzo Susan Graham. Beloved by audiences the world over, this outstanding recording is sure to be much in demand worldwide.
The unique programme provides a celebration of French song in an unusual way – instead of groups of songs by several composers Susan has opted for a single song by 22 different composers from Bizet to Poulenc. This is the programme she and Malcolm Martineau, her regular accompanist, took on tour in the USA and Europe in 2007/2008. Reviews were unanimous “confirms Susan Graham as the ideal package she is” (Music Web); “resistance is futile” (New York Times); "superb, exquisite" (Chicago Tribune)
Susan Graham is particularly at home in French repertoire, one of the few non-French singers recognised by the French themselves when they made her a Commandeur dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Susan refutes the idea that all French vocal music sounds the same: "This programme has everything: loud, soft, high, low, fast, slow, romantic, acidic."
Includes some surprises- Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre for example, known by everyone as a orchestral showpiece but in fact first written as a song, but hardly ever performed as such; and some favourites such as Hahn’s À Chloris and Canteloube’s Brezairola, but far more discoveries such as the gorgeous Psyché by Paladilhe and Bachelet’s ecstatic Chère Nuit.
Susan Graham comments on this recording:
"The program I have recorded with Malcolm Martineau is a really rich variety of French mélodies over a hundred-year span, from the mid-19th to mid-20th century. It's a rich tapestry - from Bizet to Poulenc - and it provides a delicious variety of romantic, saucy, lush, humorous, and offbeat songs. Some are heartbreaking, some are dramatic - almost operatic - in scope, like Bachelet's "Chère nuit". Some are little brush-strokes, and some create a whole landscape. There are animal songs, nature songs, love songs, songs about love manqué, and some subtle French humor thrown in for fun. They make up a varied and rich program. If they were food and you were in a restaurant, these songs would be the entire appetizer menu, and you'd have to order them all."