– Joseph K. So
Today marks the birthday of Venezuelan born French composer Reynaldo Hahn (Aug. 9 1874 – Jan. 28 1947). Hahn is best known for his many songs. Last year for his birthday, I featured one of his earliest and best, “Si me vers avaient des ailes” set to a poem by Victor Hugo, sung by American mezzo Susan Graham. My comments last year, on the sensual, perfumed quality of that song, fully apply to the song this year – “L’heure exquise.” Once again I’ve picked the voice of Susan Graham, recorded in the 1990’s. Early in her career, Graham lived in France and became a famous interpreter of French songs by Faure, Duparc, Hahn and Debussy. She sings with a certain lightness of tone and exquisite mezza voce so essential in Hahn. The pianist is Roger Vignoles, who was in town all last week for a recital, public masterclass and teaching in the Art of the Song program of the Toronto Summer Music. Toronto opera fans will also have the great good fortune of hearing Graham in opera, as she is coming to open the COC season in the title role of Iphigenie en Tauride in September.