Talking about love is pretty good. And Stacey Kent is full of love. Smiling, small, static but generous, the American singer reflects on stage what her voice is: certainly not that of a diva like Sarah Vaughan, but nevertheless very precise on the note, which she often raises with a subtle vibrato, and very attentive to the diction. To sharing what she says with the audience. But love songs can give the best as well as the worst, especially when they are accompanied by a symphony orchestra, where there is a great risk of sinking into syrupiness.
Conductor Bastien Stil gets around this obstacle by giving the ONBA an airy feel. He barely makes the attacks of the notes felt, and doses the sound intensities with precision. Under his direction, the colorful harmonies of these pieces written or inspired by the great Brazilian masters (Antonio Carlos Jobm, Vinécius de Moraes…) sound like waves that rise and fall. They envelop the singer, and even the jazz quintet that accompanies her, in a shimmering and warm wave, without ever suffocating her. And we measure the contribution of the ONBA when it stops playing for a few minutes, and “Ces petits riens” by Serge Gainsbourg sounds thin, lead by a pathetically false flute… But we drink whey milk again on “Aguas de Março”. that Stacey Kent interprets in duet with her saxophonist and husband Jim Tomlmson.
Only three notes to sing, but the chord progression makes it sound different each time. After the anthology version of Anton” Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina in 1974, this could sound like karaoke. But no. The orchestra digs the reliefs, enriches the colors, softens the angles and offers this indescribable happiness: that of the living music.