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A Moment Of Joy / Susan Mohini Kane

Kane,Susan Mohini
Release Date: 10/27/2009 
Label:  Cd Baby   Catalog #: 5637568977  
Composer:  Douglas MooreSara Carina GraefCécile Louise ChaminadeJohn Woods Duke,   ... 
Performer:  Susan Mohini KaneKristof Van Gryspeer
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Special Order: If we cannot ship this title in 45 days, your order will be cancelled and you will be notified via email.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A singular pleasure.

 
I must admit this is not the genre of CD that I would normally review. It is not that I do not like sopranos or songs by Germans, French and American composers. I do! It is just that these rarely come my way. Yet I am glad an exception was made with this truly inspirational disc: I have enjoyed every moment of it and have found each track both a delight and more often than not an eye-opener.
 
I first got in touch with Susan Kane by way of her magnificent contribution to the subject of British art songs or lieder. She is the author of an exceptionally well-argued and fascinating thesis on the life, times and music of Liza Lehmann. Unfortunately this essential
Read more document has not been turned into a book. I hope that one day soon it will be. It was not until some months later I discovered that Miss Kane was also an accomplished soprano and had just released this present CD - her first. Unfortunately, I was too late to enjoy the launch drinks and nibbles in L.A.!
 
This disc is conceived as a journey – for both the singer and the listener. More than that, it is an education. Event the briefest of glances at the track-listing reveals a wide range of interest, styles and moods. Many of these numbers are totally new to me, and I guess, to many listeners as well, on both sides of the Pond.
 
Susan Kane quotes the great American poet, Walt Whitman as the inspiration for this selection: it bears quoting –
 
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
 
It was this text that allowed Susan Kane to work out a track-listing that reflected her own interest and her personal tastes. She writes in her ‘blog’:-
 
“I wondered if an American singer should only sing American music.  I wondered [what] truly would be an authentic expression of myself as a singer and as a human member of this planet.  How could I deny that I am born and raised in the US?  To go further, born and raised in the midwest.  I went to Taos, New Mexico, to contemplate all the possibilities.  I was raised to perform folk songs and Christmas carols, hymns and patriotic songs.  I was trained to sing Italian opera and French art song and German Lieder.  I was trained to sing old renaissance madrigals, baroque cantatas, classical arias, romantic songs, and modern repertoire from classical composers.  But who am I as an artist?”
 
This present CD answers these questions in a convincing manner. It is an interesting and often moving journey.
 
Susan Kane is rightly proud of her American Heritage. At least six of the songs on this CD were written by American composers – with the Korngold being an honorary seventh – he became a naturalised American in 1943. Talking of Korngold, the stunning ‘Mariettas Lied zur Laute’ from Die Tote Stadt must be one of the most beautiful arias in all opera literature. This song, which must have resonated with contemporary post-Great War audiences in 1920, tells a story of love, but is coloured by a certain sadness. For life and love are surely transitory.
 
Kane is a great advocate for music written by women and here there are fine songs by the French composer Cécile Chaminade, Fanny Hensel and Sara Carina Graef. The Chaminade song is a rare treat: one that I had not heard before and which is typically French. The Hensel not unexpectedly nods to Mendelssohn and is a strong and well presented song. Susan Graef’s piece is the most complex and modern on this CD – yet is thoroughly enjoyable. She is not a composer that is generally known outside the USA.
 
The song Be Still as you are Beautiful by the American John Duke is a moving song that explores some beautiful harmonies and has a reflective melody. The somewhat spare texture of Ned Rorem gives a passionate exposition to Silver Song and Aaron Copland’s early Pastorale is truly enigmatic.
 
Fortunately Joseph Marx is being largely rehabilitated at the present and nowhere is his achievement more obvious in this miniature Selige Nacht. And lastly the Handel is great. I had heard Cleopatra’s ‘Piangerò, la sorte mia’ from Giulio Cesare before, although I have not seen a performance of the opera. It is a welcome choice here.
 
One or two down sides: I found the CD cover very hard to read due to the script-like font and the somewhat ‘imaginative’ background that it is printed on. Furthermore, I would have liked some details of the composers, especially those I do not know about such as Graef, Duke and Gordon. I had to search on the Internet for all personal dates and the publication date of the each piece. Perhaps a copy of the text (where out of copyright) would have been helpful too.
 
Susan Mohini Kane does not have a ‘big’ voice – she is no Anne Sofie von Otter, Renée Fleming or Montserrat Caballé. She is more at home in the middle to lower ranges of her voice. Yet the added value that she brings to these songs is a crystal-clearness of tone, her undoubted enthusiasm and minute attention to detail. Additionally she backs up her singing career with scholarly erudition. Her accompanist Kristof Van Gryspeer is always sympathetic and responsive to both Kane’s voice and the wide variety of moods and styles represented on this CD.
 
This is a CD to enjoy in the company of a gifted and enthusiastic singer: it explores ground rarely traversed by better known artists. A singular pleasure.
  -- John France, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
The Ballad of Baby Doe: Willow Song by Douglas Moore
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
2.
Prayers from the Long History of Happiness: Truth by Sara Carina Graef
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
3.
Viens, mon bien-aime! by Cécile Louise Chaminade
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
4.
Be Still As You Are Beautiful by John Woods Duke
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
5.
Genius Child: Joy by Ricky Ian Gordon
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
6.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Comme autrefois by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Paris, France 
7.
Un moto di gioia, K 579 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1789; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Silver Swan by Ned Rorem
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
9.
Lieder (6), Op. 1: no 3, Warum sind denn die Rosen so blass by Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Germany 
10.
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Piangerò la sorte mia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
11.
Selige Nacht by Joseph Marx
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
12.
Pastorale "Since You Love Me" by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; Paris, France 
13.
Die tote Stadt, Op. 12: Glück, das mir verblieb "Mariettalied" by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Susan Mohini Kane (Soprano), Kristof Van Gryspeer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Vienna, Austria 

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