Love notes: I’ll sing yours if you play mine
Michael Lampard, baritone, Ross Fiddes, pianist
Mosman Art Gallery, Aug 23, 7.30 pm
Written by Ria Andriani
Melbourne-based baritone Michael Lampard and Newcastle-based pianist and composer Ross Fiddes, delivered this rare gem of a concert in the incredibly intimate and stunning acoustic of the Mosman Art Gallery.
In the tradition of the themed song recital, Love Notes showcased the breadth of the emotion of love – both poetic and practical.
The first song cycle, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved) Op. 98, was a fine, seamless performance. Michael and Ross seemed to be at home in this repertoire – both showing incredible ease in the equal partnership between the voice and the piano. True to his style, Beethoven’s music is full of contrasts between passion, gentleness, joy and despair. I loved the range of colours expressed by both singers and pianist.
The next offering, Michael Lampard’s own song cycle So young and fair, follows the tradition of 20th century art song. The word settings have the precision of Vaughan Williams and Britten, with a touch of the French impressionists in its harmony. The cycle revolves around a collection of poems by James Joyce Of that so sweet imprisonment. Michael certainly writes to his strengths, showing off vocal range through beautifully extended melodic lines and graceful accompaniment. Hint: if you’re an aspiring baritone, songs from this cycle are worth performing in competitions.
The first half concluded with the completely contrasting Alzati! Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima (You were the one who stained her soul), from Verdi’s Un Ballo in maschera which narrates a familiar scenario as the wronged husband Renato (baritone) tells his unfaithful wife Amelia (soprano) that it is her lover Riccardo, (tenor) and not Amelia who deserves to die.
The authentic love notes are from Ross Fiddes to his wife Jill, who was present at the performance. Called Love stories, these are the words of the late Australian poet John Shaw Neilson. It is a fine tapestry of texture, musical tropes, lyricism and poignantly beautiful words. The highlight for me was the third song, Declaration which the duo performed with great tenderness and skill. It contained the enduring lines “Now I shall love you till the birds/ Have lost the way to sing, … And I shall love you till there be No grace in hearts of men/When a girl’s eyes will grow no love/I’ll love you until then”. Of all the songs in the cycle, this was the one that both Ross and Michael really made their own.
The concert ended with the lighter, yet not less passionate songs by Cole Porter. Both musicians relished performing The Tale of the oyster who learned the lessons of love from being on the lunch menu of gossiping ladies. Michael Lampard and Ross Fiddes are worth catching in a return Sydney performance.
Ria Andriani for SoundsLikeSydney©
Ria Andriani graduated with Bachelor of Music/ Bachelor of Arts from UNSW in 2015. She now sings as a soprano with various choirs in Sydney, and presents recitals in collaboration with other musicians. Follow Ria on www.facebook.com/RiaAndrianiSoprano