Jazz and Opera Come Together Over Poetry and Pop
The jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and the soprano Renée Fleming have been bending toward each other's worlds: Mr. Mehldau with a classically inspired solo-piano record some years back ("Elegiac Cycle") and plenty of written pronouncements about Brahms, Beethoven and Schumann; Ms. Fleming with an interest in jazz that she recently developed into "Haunted Heart," an album of mostly popular music and standards with Bill Frisell and Fred Hersch.
That album, though, has no relation to the art songs she did with Mr. Mehldau on Sunday night at Zankel Hall. This was classical music, and new work, a commission for Mr. Mehldau from Carnegie Hall - specifically from Robert J. Harth, Carnegie's former artistic and executive director, who died not long after commissioning the work. It made sense in most ways, even if it didn't engage on deeper levels.
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