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Granados, Ravel, Rossini, Schubert etc

Songs in Spanish, French & Italian

Clara Mouriz mezzo-soprano & Joseph Middleton piano

Literes: Confiado jilguerillo
De la Torre/Dørumsgaard: Pampano verde
Marqués de Santillana/ Rodrigo: Serranilla
Esteve/Dørumsgaard: Alma, sintamos!
Ravel: Shéhérazade
Granados: La maja dolorosa I, II and III

Schubert: Didone abbandonata; Mio ben ricordati; Son fra l’onde
Rossini: Giovanna d’Arco
E Halffter: Ai que linda moça

23 September 2010

Clara Mouriz, whose name might not be known to you, is a wonderful true mezzo*, who seems not yet to have her own website and isn't on the hype-bandwagon. However, we are told by her notes-writer, somewhat ambiguously, that she will soon be "coaching with Joyce DiDonato", and a starry future seems certain.

Mouriz has given several recitals which Musical Pointers reviewers have been privileged to attend (tempted by unusually interesting programmes) and this one, worked up with expert and sensitive pianist Joseph Middleton, was the most recent and best of those I'd heard.

Spanish-born, resident in GB (ex-RAM), Clara Mouriz's first group of miscellaneous Spanish rarities established her authority and way of communicating and drawing in an audience, which she captured immediately and held throughout the evening, most notably when floating soft tones with total technical security.

With Ravel's Shéhérazade, usually heard with orchestra, she moved into more familiar territory, but this orginal version with piano remains a great rarity, though one which works extremely well, concentrating attention on the niceities of the imaginative Klingsor texts in a way that can be lost with full orchestra.

Choosing three dark maja dolorosa songs of Granados was a cunning stroke, Joseph Middleton's introduction to the first of them arresting (hear it on line) and they brought the first half to a strong end with an audience interval "buzz"...

The Italianate second half had Schubert as the abandoned Dido in a Metastasio scena (1816), his studies as a Salieri pupil embarked upon when he had operatic ambitions. It was nicely mirrored by Mouriz's final choice, an operatic gran scena, a dramatic Joan of Arc cantata with original piano accompaniment, composed by Rossini after he had retired from operatic composition; far better than many such to be heard in song recitals, with piano reductions of orchestral scores. Ample tone for the climaxes, well controlled coloratura, and all perfectly scaled for the intimacy of Wigmore Hall.

A small, tender Hallfter encore brought to its end a satisfying programme; just the right length for a CD ?

Peter Grahame Woolf

* "a light, agile mezzo of great charm and elegant intelligence..”, Hilary Finch, The Times, 7 April 2008.

Photo: Jose Manuel Bielsa