The program began with Manuel de Falla’s Psyché, a sensual, nebulous song for voice, flute, violin, viola, cello, and harp. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano embodied the alluring mystery of de Falla’s work, her voice shimmering and pulsing with a languorous, almost nonchalant desire. Together, Cano and the instrumentalists created a seamless ensemble of texture and timbre.
The themes of desire and mystery continued through Ravel’s exquisite Shéhérazade. Cano captivated with her malleable musicality, bending her sizable mezzo-soprano to meet the subtle and delicate demands of Ravel’s vocal writing. Her “Asie” was full of melancholy, restless excitement of the spirit, and frustrated resignation. In “La Flûte enchantée,” Cano’s poetic sensuality was balanced by the marvelous and ecstatic playing of flutist Tara Helen O’Connor. “L’Indifférent,” the third and final song, brought Cano and pianist Alessio Bax together in an enigmatic and delicate performance, which ended, appropriately, with more questions than answers.