This recital of art songs by soprano Siobhan Stagg and pianist Amir Farid served to introduce their CD of the same name.
This recital of art songs by soprano Siobhan Stagg and pianist Amir Farid served to introduce their CD of the same name. More a sensual, rich celebration of love than a hymn, this was a well-paced and varied program that was essentially mirrored in the recording. Featuring a young singer who already has a number of awards and favourable reviews to her credit, and one of the most sensitive accompanists in town, Hymne a l’amour could hardly be anything but a success, and so it proved.
There to review the concert, I nevertheless purchased a copy of the CD after hearing it. No deals, no discounts – with my own money. What more need I say?
But as to the concert: the opening item, Delibes’ Les Filles de Cadix, put one in mind of Carmen – as did Stagg, in a becoming, strapless red dress. The song was a good choice for her lovely rich voice, with trills and high notes confidently managed.
Already well in command of the stage, Stagg described art song as a match of text and music, and that was proven in the second choice: Oh! Quand je dor (O when I sleep) by Franz Liszt, and in the two songs by Duparc that followed. As well as being perfect vehicles for Stagg’s lovely voice, these works also gave Farid the opportunity to demonstrate his sensitivity and empathetic support of the singer.
The composer Dermot Tutty was in the audience to hear the world premiere of his O Where is the Dove?, a work reminiscent of a Grieg nocturne, with phrasing a highlight of both performers’ interpretation. Similarly Schubert’s Du bist die Ruh (You are repose) showed the gentle empathy between artists in a familiar work, while Wolf’s Kennst du das Land called for contrasts, with an operatic sound and dramatic effects, and a memorable high note at the quiet ending.
At last came the highlight of the concert: Zueignung by Richard Strauss. Less than two minutes long, it gave Stagg’s voice the chance to soar, while Farid matched the dynamics and mood perfectly, with a well-judged crescendo at the end. Simply a gem.
There was more, with Bellnini and Donizetti representing Italian composers, (the latter ‘to make my life difficult’ said the soprano, nevertheless tossing off La Zingara with ease as Farid met his own challenges).
After two English songs came the song that gave the concert its title: Hymne a l’amour by Marguerite Monnot, as interpreted by Edith Piaf. Both singer and pianist conveyed the beauty – and nostalgia – of this song, purely, authentically and entirely in harmony with each other. In that way it summed up the whole concert.
Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5
Hymne a l’amour
Siobhan Stagg (soprano) and Amir Farid (piano)
Melbourne Recital Centre