VIAF 2013

And a lieder recital of quality it was!

This evening, a select audience were regaled to a performance of Lieder by well-known Maltese mezzo soprano Claire Massa accompanied most ably by one of Malta’s foremost pianists, Caroline Calleja.

This was a recital that required an intense intellectual response, coupled with a hefty dose of emotional commitment. Opting for a programme that mingled German Lieder with Spanish canciones and French art songs, the choice made huge demands on the performers, who eased their way through with refined sensibility and elegance. They managed to adapt to the sublimity of Schumann, flowing into the fiery passion of de Falla and finishing with the subtle irony of Poulenc with confidence and assurance.

Claire Massa is a very intelligent singer and Lieder suits her voice like a glove. Her rendering of the Schumann song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben came across in all its wide dynamic intensity, both intellectually and emotionally. It is a 20-minute work but not for a single moment did the attention drop or the commitment waver – you could hear a pin drop – and the end result was one that attested to the maturity and understanding of both singer and pianist. From the fortissimo to the softest of pianissimos, this was a truly accomplished performance throughout.

De Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españolas are a showcase of fire, passion and temperament. The Latin characteristic of the work was evident in the seething turbulence of the accompaniment above which the voice soared in all its glory. Balance between voice and accompaniment was maintained impeccably throughout and this deep understanding between the performers was further enhanced in the last two songs that were performed, namely, Poulenc’s Fêtes Galantes and La gars qui vont à la fête. These two works ripple with the typical Poulenc irony and brought this truly enjoyable performance to a resounding close, after which the audience was granted an encore in the form of Gershwin’s evergreen Summertime.

Caroline Calleja proved a most reliable and assured accompanist, balancing her act cleverly, asserting her presence without ever overstating her role, allowing the singer the space to come out easefully at all times.

We look forward to hearing these two performers again in the near future!