Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: Sarah Connolly/Malcolm Martineau, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Carol Main.
To sustain a full recital programme of songs, none of which is particularly upbeat, is no mean feat. That mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and pianist Malcolm Martineau pulled off such a performance yesterday morning at the Queen’s Hall is testimony to their consummate artistry.
In a first half circling around Vienna and tracing the teacher- to-student links between Zemlinsky to Schoenberg and Schoenberg to Hanns Eisler, the former’s early Op 2 Lieder for starters immediately struck the exceptionally high quality that consistently riveted a full house. The still serenity of Connolly’s enveloping tone with sparkling accompaniment like twinkling stars from Martineau was exquisite in Erwartung (Waiting). Reminiscent of the harmonic colouring of Kurt Weill, six songs by Zemlinsky were sung with extraordinarily controlled phrasing, as well as a great sense of humanity bringing out their stories, penned by Maeterlinck, of death, destiny and lost love.
Connolly’s diction whether in German or French, for Debussy’s shimmering , softer palette of Chansons de Bilitis, is always precise and easily made out, and tellingly expressive of the texts even if the language is not familiar to the listener.
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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