Susan Graham is yet another in a cohort of strong mezzo sopranos at this point in time. Her CD, "Portrait," demonstrates that she deserves to be considered with other excellent mezzos. She is backed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Harry Bicket.
The range of works on this CD is quite wide--from Handel to Mozart to Rorem to Debussy to Ives. In between, we see works by Berlioz, Heggie, Brahms, Berg, Hahn, and Simons. Quite a broad repertoire!
Some exemplary cuts--
From Mozart, we have two pieces from "Le Nozze di Figaro," "Voi che sapete" and "Non so piu cosa son, cosa faccio." The former first. . . . Graham displays a wonderfully rich voice. This is taken at a leisurely pace, but Graham's voice is seamless, moving smoothly from note to note. A nice version!
The latter aria is much more quickly paced than "Voi che sapete." Her spirited singing fits this aria well. She shows some vocal agility here, as a result of the quicker tempo. This is a solid effort, featuring a nice close to the piece.
From Handel's "Alcina," "Di te mi rido": She shows good sensibilities with Handel's music. She demonstrates good vocal agility and shows some coloratura technique. If I understand correctly, she does well producing appoggiaturas. Well sung indeed! She closes out the aria nicely.
Rorem's "O you whom I often and silently come": This is a 30 second plus work, featuring the words of Walt Whitman. A piano accompanies Graham. This is sweetly sung.
From Ives, "The circus band": Another song with piano accompaniment. This is a quick paced work and Graham handles that well. This is a nice "off the beaten path" work. It's nice to see her varied repertoire on this CD, with this being one more example of that.
In sum, Susan Graham shows a good mezzo soprano voice and nice technique. Well worth listening to if you are interested in the mezzo soprano repertoire.