Magazine article Opera Canada

Chemins De L'amour: Jean Stilwell

Magazine article Opera Canada

Chemins De L'amour: Jean Stilwell

Article excerpt

LES CHEMINS DE L'AMOUR

Jean Stilwell, mezzo-soprano, & Robert Kortgaard, piano, with assorted instrumentalists. CBC Records MVCD 1135.

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When an artist finds a repertoire that seems a perfect fit, the exhilaration becomes a part of the expressive experience. French cabaret songs and melodies sit on Jean Stilwell like an haute couture gown, and her new CD collection of them, Les chemins de l'amour, is a small but distinct triumph of elegance and flair. Stilwell's mezzo-soprano has a luxuriant, dark coloration without having a tragic cast to it, and interpretively, she knows all about insinuation and evocation. It is only when she forces for emotional effect that her tone reveals a noticeable beat, but for the most part in this repertoire, she focuses on understatement and subtle indirection. This is singing that knows a sense of high style.

The program is a fascinating mixture of those early 20th-century French composers who seemed comfortable embracing both the classical tradition and a popular idiom. Songs by Poulenc, Hahn, Satie, Koechlin and even Debussy receive haunting performances, their texts and melodies interwoven with nuanced command. …

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