Though not usually one for true live recordings that include audience applause and response, SUSAN GRAHAM AT CARNEGIE HALL works well on every level. Not only is she in top form (as is her collaborator Malcolm Martineau at he piano) vocally and interpretatively, she demonstrates here an obvious rapport with her audience that is magical.
The repertoire here could not be more varied - and successful in every portion of this recital. Graham's voice has that ability to move from her usual mezzo soprano range into the lyric/spinto range with the greatest of ease. The Brahms 'Zigeunerlieder' are full of zest and sparkle. The Debussy 'Proses lyriques' are sensually liquid and Graham's French diction is as perfect as it gets: the Poulenc cycle feels so very natural for all its underlying difficulties. The too rarely heard Berg 'Sieben fruhe Lieder' are elegant and involved and the Messanger and Simons highlight Graham's ease of strolling through unknown works, making them sound so familiar.
Encores are included and for once "thank goodness!" Susan Graham has a special affinity for Reynaldo Hahn and she has mad 'A Chloris' her very own. For the Mahlerites she offers 'Liebst du um Schonheit' (including a comment to the audience) and a Debussy song and a witty ditty written for her by Ben Moore - just for fun.
The audience fortunate enough to have been present during this live recording on April 14, 2003 have now a living memento. For the rest of us that magic is fully contained on this very special recording. Grady Harp, December 2004