Sara Macliver Sings Lieder
As one of Australia’s best-loved singers, Sara Macliver is famed at home and around the world for her virtuosic performances of baroque repertoire. This year Sara joins ANAM Pianists for a morning performance that promises to be pure aural luxury.
ANAM’s Phil Lambert was lucky enough to catch up with Sara and discuss the upcoming program.
PL: Sara, this is a big program.
Sara Macliver: It’s beautiful. It’s massive! But I’ve got pretty good vocal stamina, so I think it will be fine.
PL: You’re starting with the Jewel Song from Faust. Most singers start with something light, but that seems like plunging in headfirst.
SM: Yes, I wanted to hit the audience with something big! It’s actually fiendishly difficult for the pianist, because there’s lots of rubato. I’ll be working with Julia Hastings (ANAM Pianist) on the context of the aria and ways of creating the character.
PL: That character happens to be Marguerite, who turns up again in the Schubert bracket as Margaret at the Spinning Wheel.
SM: Yes, there’s a lovely symmetry there.
PL: What dictated your choice of music?
SM: Timothy Young (ANAM Head of Piano and Chamber Music) and I put it together. Obviously I’m working with six different pianists, and wanted to give them an insight into the different types of repertoire they need to play working with singers. You’ve got reduced orchestral scores in the Gounod and Barber, then traditional voice with the lieder and chanson. Then we have something much more contemporary with Carl Vine. It’s really to give them some guidance about what sorts of things they need to do in rehearsal when working with singers.
PL: So many of Debussy’s songs, it seems, are about creating a particular mood.
SM: Yes, they’re about colour and texture, light and shade, creating a mood.
I want the pianists to think about how the vocal and the piano lines, although obviously separate, nevertheless combine and mould into one another to create this incredible effect. I don’t see these songs as soloistic at all, but the two parts working together to create an atmosphere.
They’re all beautiful but quite different. Romance and Les cloches have a similar mood but Mandoline and Chevaux de bois (Wooden Horses) are very different. Debussy really cleverly creates the atmosphere of the carousel at the fair and the child feeling a bit sick.
And then there’s Samuel Barber’s Knoxville. The pianist, Alex Raineri, has the tricky job of playing an orchestral reduction, so he’ll need to study the original score and its textures. Barber does an amazing job of orchestrating and creating character within the piece. Somehow you’ve got to do that also on the piano.
The reason I love this piece so much is it was sung by my teacher, Molly McGurk. She had an amazing ability to create colour, but it was uncomplicated. She was a phenomenal musician, the only person ever to win the ABC Instrumental and Vocal Competition twice, once as a pianist and then again as a singer. And she’s also the only person to have performed as a soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in both capacities.
It was amazing having her as a teacher because she could play anything. Sometimes she’d say, “I think this setting’s a bit low for you, Sara,” so she’d just transpose it up at sight!
I’ve been singing most of the Schubert songs for a long time, but every time you go back to them you find something new.
PL: What is the most important thing in a pianist?
SM: Intuition. Also, the pianist should actually breathe with the singer. You have to be both on the same page. Then the results are amazing!
PL: Which accompanist do you most recommend pianists listen to?
SM: Geoffrey Parsons.
SARA MACLIVER SINGS LIEDER
Fri 13 March 11am
GOUNOD: Jewel Song from Faust
DEBUSSY Beau soir
DEBUSSY 2 Romances for high voice & piano
DEBUSSY Les Cloches
DEBUSSY Chevaux de bois from Ariettes oubliées
BARBER Knoxville from Summer of 1915, op. 24
MOZART Ruhe sanft from Zaide, K. 344
SCHUBERT Gretchen am Spinnrade, D 118, op. 2
SCHUBERT Die Forelle, D 550, op. 32
SCHUBERT Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D 774, op. 72
SCHUBERT Rastlose Liebe, D 138
STRAUSS Selected Lieder from op. 67, “Ophelia Lieder”
Sara Macliver soprano
Venue South Melbourne Town Hall
Tickets All $27
Bookings anam.com.au (03) 9645 7911
Sara Macliver’s 2015 ANAM residency is generously supported by Hans and Petra Henkell