The Maiden and the Nightingale

Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA was given by soprano, Vanessa Vasquez and pianist Miloš Repický.  It was a well constructed programme though there were few surprises.  The first set was three Strauss standards; Ständchen, Breit’ übermein Haupt and Befreit; the last dedicated to Vanessa’s teacher who died recently.  They were all well sung with appropriate emotional emphasis and, best of all, both performers appeared to be enjoying themselves.

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1001 Nights with Miriam Khalil

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was a song recital with an Oriental(ist) theme by polyglot soprano Miriam Khalil and pianist Topher Mokrzewski.  It kicked off with the two Suleika songs by Schubert to texts by Marianne von Willimer.  For my taste Miriam’s voice and treatment of the songs was decidedly on the dramatic side.  It was interesting and there’s no doubting the commitment but it’s not my favourite way to hear Schubert.  It was all uphill from there though.  Ravel’s Shéherazade; Debussy inspired music to texts by Tristan Klingsor, was given an equally dramatic treatment, and Miriam is very dramatic in both voice and body language,  but here it worked for me, especially the passionate invocation of the invented East in Asie.

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Beware of the leopard!

Clémentine Margaine prowled the RBA like an exotic and rather dangerous feline.  A total stage animal, she created a stunning series of female personae, from the virginal to the very much not, to bring to life a well curated selection of Spanish and French pieces.  She started with the 7 Canciones populares Españoles of de Falla which set the tone as they communicate a wide variety moods and temperaments in a very short space of time.  Each little song was fully invested with its own drama. And her eyes.  Incredible!  Granados’ La maja dolorosa followed.  By this point I was really beginning to understand why Ms. Margaine is so sought after.  It’s a big, dark, sexy voice.  I would probably have realised the sheer size of the voice more on Wednesday if I hadn’t been comparing her to the absolutely enormous sound of Anita Rashvelishvili.  It’s a wonderfully expressive instrument perhaps lacking a really strong upward extension but, overall, lovely to listen to.

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