Mezzo Susan Graham Sings “L’heure exquise”

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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.

– Joseph K. So

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Joseph K. So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, but his first love is music, which he studied as an undergraduate student at the State University of New York. Since seeing his first live opera – La Gioconda with Renata Tebaldi at the Met in 1967, the singing voice became his lifelong favourite instrument. In addition to his longtime contributions to La Scena Musicale and The Music Scene, he is Associate Editor of Opera Canada and a frequent contributor to Musical Toronto.

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