From Music in Cincinnati

Songs Fill the Air at Linton Music Series

Posted in: 2016
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Feb 28, 2017 - 12:51:16 PM

An exquisite program of art songs graced the warm interior of First Unitarian Church in Avondale Sunday. A capacity crowd was in attendance for the Linton Chamber Music event, which was an event indeed.
    Featured were songs by Debussy, Schumann, Duparc (Henri) and Brahms. Performing were mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor and pianist Louis Langrée. Yes, that's Langrée as in Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Louis Langrée, in a rare public appearance as a pianist. It was a wonderful to experience his artistry on the keys in collaboration with Grammy Award-winner O'Connor.
   O'Connor's sumptuous voice was startling in its beauty, full, rich and matched to the finest nuance. Langrée spoke with eloquence, both complementing her lines and masterfully delivering his own.
   The two opened with Debussy's "Trois Chansons de Bilitis" to pagan-inspired poems by Pierre Louÿs: "La Flute de Pan" {"The Flute of Pan"), "La Cheveleure" ("Hair") and "La Tombeau des Naiades" ("The Tomb of the Water Nymphs"). "La Cheveleure" came to a sweet, demure end, while "Le Tombeau des Naides" was exquisite and understated. O'Connor and Langrée captured beautifully the exotic/ erotic flavor of each.
   Schumann's "Frauenlieben und Leben" ("Love in a Woman's Life") to text by Adelbert von Chamisso, ranged from ecstatic to excited to blissful, a terrace of emotions covered with sensitivity and skill by O'Connor and Langrée.
    Four Songs by Duparc (1848-1933), least familiar on the program, were both lovely and impressive. The third, "Elegie," with text by Thomas Moore,
was dramatic and full of yearning, with a deceptive cadence at the end. The final song, "Phidyle´with text by Christopher Goldsack was full and rich, a perfect vehicle for Connor's luxuriant voice. It was brought to a super-soft, affective ending by Langrée.
   The final set by Brahms consisted of his "Zieguenerlieder" ("Gypsy Songs"). These received an excited and exciting performance by both voice and piano. The turbulent "Hochgetürmte Rimaflut" ("Mountainous Rima Waters") was sealed by a big major chord. The joyful "Lieber Gott, du weisst, wir oft bereut ich hab" ("Dear God, you know") led to a similarly cheerful -- in fact head-back exuberant -- "Brauner Bursche führt zum Tanze" ("A Bronzed Lad Leads to Dance").  By contrast, Röslein dreie in der Reihe blühn" ("Three Little Roses in a Row") was swift and perky. For a grand, affirmative end, Connor and Langrée performed "Rote Abendwolken ziehn am Firmament" ("Red Clouds of Evening").
   A unanimous standing ovation called for an encore. The two obliged with Richard Strauss' sweet, familiar "Morgen" ("Tomorrow").
    All in all, it was a momentous debut for the duo, who will perform again in April. Don't miss it.


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