The Truth About Love

Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA featured Claire de Sévigné and Rachel Andrist with Huw Montague Rendall chipping in with readings.  The theme, naturally enough, was Love.  It was a carefully curated program taking us through Passion, The Bond, Pain, Memory and, finally, The Truth.  Along the way we got Poulenc, Fauré and Debussy; Wolf and Liszt; Schubert and Schumann; even some Strauss and Weill before The Truth was revealed in English language texts set by Hughes, Previn, Copland and Bridge.  Make of that last what you will.

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It was a really enjoyable recital.  Entführung aside I don’t think I’ve heard Claire sing since before her stint in Zürich.  She’s matured as a singer and it certainly hasn’t done her German any harm.  She’s still a light, bright soprano but there’s more depth of colour and greater maturity of interpretation.  Highlights yesterday included Schumann’s Lied der Braut which was just lovely and a very cute and witty rendering of Schubert’s Die Männer sind méchant.  I was impressed too with her performance of Strauss’ An die Nacht.  I don’t think Claire’s voice (at this stage) is obvious for Strauss but it was very well done.  There was also a cracking idiomatic version of Weill’s Je ne t’aime pas; a cabaret song.  I could listen to her a lot more in this kind of material.  But truly, I’m cherry picking.  The singing was all good.  The selection was nicely paced and the well chosen readings, read very well by Huw, enhanced the whole.  Rachel Andrist, as ever, was a stalwart partner.

The encore was a pleasant surprise.  Claire was joined by Huw, who turns out to be a highly competent baritone, in a stylish and witty account of Britten’s setting of Auden’s O Tell Me the Truth About Love.  I’d read the poem before; it’s very Auden, but I don’t think I’d ever heard the Britten setting.  It’s rather good.

Photo credit: Kevin Lloyd.

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