|Louise de Vilmorin (photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1940)|
Following several deep breaths (on my part, at least) Graham transitioned into her "selections to be announced," beginning with "J'ai deux amants" from Messager's L'amour masqué. This displayed both Graham's excellent French and her generous sense of humor. This gem was followed up with Cole Porter's whimsical "The Physician" and Vernon Duke's sentimental ballad "Ages Ago." Graham gave them both with elegance and a light touch. Next, to everyone's delight, was a song written for (and, tongue-in-cheek, about) Graham by Ben Moore. With comic flair and mock-defiance of her trouser-role typecasting, Graham proclaimed "(I can be a) Sexy Lady." I'd argue, of course, that this is true even or especially in trousers, but the jokes were fun. More mezzos in Handel, please! I was gratified both by the generosity of Graham and Martineau in giving encores, and by the fact that they didn't give them as a matter of course. What the very enthusiastic audience did get was, first, Reynaldo Hahn's exquisite "À Chloris" (Graham identified it as a favorite of hers) and the amiably satirical "The Boy From..." by Mary Rodgers, to lyrics by Sondheim. The evening as a whole was a greater pleasure than I had anticipated, with Graham's technical accomplishment and directness of communication making for an engaging recital, with musical discoveries and rediscoveries along the way.