Clare McCaldin, mezzo soprano and Libby Burgess, piano, Concerts in the West

THE Concerts in the West voice and piano recital is usually a significant one, and with Clare McCaldin, mezzo, and Libby Burgess, the experienced pianist, we were treated to a very well-constructed programme that mostly worked.

For the audience however the necessary concentration was quite a challenge. With a predominantly despairing approach by Gerald Finzi in his settings of six songs To a Poet, we were drawn into a bleak world, heightened by Clare’s operatic gestures pinpointing the emotions behind the words.

Then came The Sky Above the Roof in versions by Vaughan Williams and Fauré followed by songs (mélodies) of Venice. Both performers remained strong in all these works, most of which have not graced these concerts before. But with Clare’s powerful tone it was not always easy to catch the words themselves.

When the programme moved away to lighter works, even to Cole Porter’s C’est Magnifique!, there was a relief, although no let-up in the artists’ involvement.

Indeed, the final work, A History of the Thé Dansant by Richard Rodney Bennett is no lightweight with its provocative, jazzy accompaniment against a largely legato vocal line. An accomplished performance par excellence.

Anthony Pither

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