Last night Christina Haldane gave her first DMA recital at Walter Hall. The inspiration was a painting by Manet and the programme was almost entirely made up of chansons from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Offenbach, Charpentier, Duparc, Debussy and Berlioz. The exception was the cycle The Living Spectacle by Erik Ross which closed out the first half. I could have used more variation of mood and style.
This is neither my favourite repertory nor the sort of music I have heard Christina sing or associate her with. My most vivid memory is of her knocking the socks of a Crumb piece when Barbara Hannigan was in town. So how was last night? There was some really beautiful singing. She has a fine instrument that is smooth through the registers with unforced high notes. She can tell a story and articulate text with perhaps a slight preference for sustained beauty of tone over dramatic effect; understandable enough in this rep. It’s all extremely controlled and polished. She just fleetingly showed a darker side in Ross’ The Evil Monk but even this was more langoureux than Gothick. It’s not a big surprise, the Ross pieces are curiously retro and could easily have been written a hundred years earlier. Carl Philippe Gionnet was a most idiomatic and sympathetic collaborator at the piano.
So, much more polished than the average student recital, as one might expect. The lady undoubtedly is a fine singer. I was though left with the feeling that I had dined on macarons; very fine macarons but rather too many of them. I’d go back like a shot to hear a sing a different programme!
Photo taken at Le Festival Acadien but it is Gionnet at the piano.