Skip to main content
  1. AXS Entertainment
  2. Arts & Entertainment
  3. Performing Arts

Alice Coote and Graham Johnson at Carnegie Hall

See also

Alice Coote, Graham Johnson


The music of Francis Poulenc, Gabriel Fauré, and Charles Gounod are done time and time again. So much so that they often become stale and underperformed by singers wanting to pass them off as a few sets of art. But when they are sung by an artist who breathes new life into them, that is when they become exciting and new again. Such was the case last night at Zankel Hall by Alice Coote and Graham Johnson at the ivories. Though imperfect at moments, Ms. Coote and Mr. Johnson managed to dust off the scores and ignite the air with magical musical revelry.

As she took the stage, Ms. Coote wore a simple black silk blouse paired with black pants and black high heals. But she was draped with a creamy white sheer coat with black abstract swirls splashed upon it. And every time she left the stage, the coat got more dramatic in its design. The beginning of the second act found her in solid dark plum while the final article was pitch black; an absolutely genius idea, and a visceral visual example of how a singer can use something simple and create a greatly profound effect.

The effects continued as Ms. Coote also showed she was not afraid of a pianissimo as a device to draw the audience into her rich, earthly tone, which, again, worked perfectly. Particularly in her first piece by Reynaldo Hahn, “L’heure exquise.” She has at her command a very unique voice that is both brash and beautiful.

But she also has the happy talent of interpretation. To watch her sing these songs was akin to watching a good actress transform herself into a great one. The level of pathos that she reached in Ernest Chausson’s “Le temps des lilas” was unparalleled to any such attempt this season. A level that reached its fevered pitch in Hahn’s “Fumée.” Her voice broke in this piece, but smoke is not a solid object. It has holes and is transparent, and spaced with nothingness. That was not merely a vocal hiccup, that was a perfect imperfection.

Ms. Coote could then emerge from depths of drama to a high arch of gayety as she skillfully did ending “Le temps des lilas,” and segued seamlessly into Fauré’s “Fleur jetée.”

Even though there were moments where her voice caught on a note or two, and though she sang from music at a stand (which she used as a crutch from time to time), these misgivings can be overlooked when the quality of the voice is as brilliant as hers, and when the interpretations are as connective as hers. In Alfred Bachelet’s “Chère nuit” she drew her breath into the phrase “Ah! Lève” which gave it great color and emotion.

Ms. Coote possesses this inexhaustible energy that explodes on stage and illuminates the audience from entrance to exit. One hopes New York will see many more entrances in the seasons to come.

Her final effect came at the very end of the recital when as the final chords fell on her final piece, they began again the very first song of the evening. It was an absolutely brilliant final trick from up her short, colorful sleeve.

For more information about Carnegie Hall, click here.

For more information about Alice Coote, click here.

For more information about Graham Johnson, click here.


Today's top buzz...

  • Coachella
    The set times you need to know have been announced for Coachella
    Festival Buzz
  • Lamar Odom
    The New York Knicks are giving Lamar Odom another shot in the NBA
    NBA Buzz
  • Porsha Williams
    See why 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' star Porsha Williams posed for this mug shot
    TV News
  • NHL tickets
    If you're looking to catch an NHL playoff game in NYC, don't expect to do so on a budget
    NHL Buzz
  • Transcendence
    Review: ‘Transcendence’ fascinates, but does it rise above the field?
    Movies Buzz
  • Kobe Bryant
    Kobe Bryant has agreed to cooperate with an all-access documentary about his life
    Sports Buzz

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!