A partridge without orange

It’s that time of year which marks the passing of the baton at the COC Ensemble Studio which is traditionally marked by a lunchtime farewell concert by some of the graduates.  Today’s Les Adieux featured soprano Sasha Djihanian, baritone Cameron McPhail and pianist Michael Shannon.

LesAdieux1314Parlando2First up was Cam with Poulenc’s Chansons gaillards; settings of anonymous, Rabelaisian 17th century texts.  The following gives the idea and it’s by no means the naughtiest:

Vous êtes belle come un ange,
Douce comme un petit mouton;
Il n’est point de coeur, Jeanneton,
Qui sous votre loi ne se range.
Mais une fille sans têtons
Est une perdrix sans orange.

In other words, perfect material for Mr. McPhail.  And they were sung with excellent diction and the wit we have come to expect.  Great fun!

Sasha kicked her set off with an exotic (and erotic) performance of two Armenian songs; text and music both by Sayat Nova.  It was lovely and obviously meant a lot to her.  Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées (texts by Verlaine – who else?) didn’t seem to sit as well for Sasha’s voice.  These are pretty restrained pieces and could probably have done with a little throttling back, especially in the upper register.  Sasha was to show us later that she can float a high note.  A bit more of that might have been more idiomatic for this repertoire.

Cam’s second set was Lee Holby’s I Was There; settings of Whitman poems.  These were sung with passion, clarity, lots of variation of colour and plenty of sheer power.  O Captain! My Captain! literally had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.  Michael Shannon, excellent throughout, was quite exceptional in this set.

Sasha kicked off her second set with two songs from Cypresses by Dvořák.  Is there a language this girl won’t tackle.  I enjoyed these a lot.  Sasha sang with more delicacy than hithertofore and it was very effective.  She finished up with Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß from Lehár’s Giuditta.  This was another full blooded effort sung with passion and excellent German diction.  A good note to finish on.

Except, of course it wasn’t.  We got a charming version of Là ci darem la mano complete with introductory recit.  This side of the Don is perfect for our baritone of the hypermobile eyebrows and Sasha made an adorable Zerlina.  I don’t suppose anyone was much surprised when he literally swept her off her feet at the end. 

Here are two young singers whose future careers I will follow with great interest.

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