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Kenny's outstanding performance at London's Wigmore Hall on Sunday 7 May 2006 validated her belief that 'a great song is great, no matter whether it was written by Robert Schumann or Cole Porter'. She opened with a sparkling performance of Richard Rogers' Falling in Love which segued into Reynaldo Hahn's A Chloris. Both exhibited the same wonderful sense of line and a feeling for the words. Throughout the whole recital, Kenny's performances of the lighter numbers were generally spot on. Quite often, when classically trained singers sing Broadway songs their interpretations can seem either over-studied or too arch, but Kenny and Burnside displayed just that right sort of lightness of touch needed. Their performances were shapely and enjoyable and they brought out the sheer melodic brilliance of some of these songs.

The format of the recital was that between most of the songs, Kenny and Burnside interpolated short, spoken passages on the subject of love. Drawn from a variety of sources such as Dorothy Parker and an 1850s manual of etiquette, these were short and to the point and provided a rather effective punctuation between the songs.

If Kenny's performance of A Choris was spine tingling, her account of 'Seit ich ihn gesehen' from Schumman's Frauenliebe und -leben brought out all the youthful fervour of the poem. I can think of interpretations that would be deeper and darker and give more weight to the text. But in the context of this recital the Schumann was admirable. It was made all the more remarkable by being followed by Victoria Wood's Crush, a song about an eleven year old girl's unrequited crush on an older boy. Kenny sang it in her native Sydney accent and portrayed the young girl so convincingly that what could have been simply embarrassing was both touching and amusing. Throughout the recital Kenny displayed her considerable histrionic abilities to the full. The secret of a varied recital such as this is to create just the right mood for each item; Kenny never went over the top, we had no operatic scenas, but she simply defined the mood with look and gesture.

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Copyright © 8 May 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK


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