Ms Chinn made each song something to behold. Her colorations, from the dark-hued and husky to the flutelike, conveyed the ever-changing capriciousness and coy equivocation of this work. Her striking stage presence, her breathtaking mastery of the frequently caustic vocalizations, and her interpretive insight into vivid Symbolist prosody placed her visionary reading at the top of a half-century of performances.
This year, the fiftieth anniversary of Wanda Landowska’s death, and the one hundred thirtieth anniversary of her birth, while celebrated with some new recordings of her uniquely affecting keyboard playing, has passed by the attention of most music lovers. In Lakeville, Connecticut, though, where Landowska spent the last years of her life, 1949 and 1950, harpsichordist/organist/choral director Christine Gevert has insured that her musical legacy should receive ample notice. From May through October, Gevert’s Crescendo Ensemble has offered concerts, film, and lectures celebrating Landowska’s achievements. As part of this commemorative festival comes this remarkable celebration of the harpsichord, in singular and in plural. It is largely Landowska’s due that the harpsichord was revivified in the twentieth century for early music performance; as well, its reappearance, and Landowska’s championing recitals, offered modern composers inspiration for a wave of newly composed works for this ancient instrument.