Friday, 13 May 2016

Claudia Alvarez Calderón & Father Kristian Paver Soprano & Organ/Piano "Alleluia" Songs for Eastertide Catholic Church of St Mary & St George Totnes Sunday 17 April 2016 - Hear recordings on Soundart Radio ("Classical Journey Redux" 3-6pm Sunday 15 May)

Claudia Alvarez Calderón

Father Kristian Paver
Four months on from their debut performance (12 December 2015), Father Kristian Paver and Claudia Alvarez Calderón got together again for a concert of Easter songs for organ, piano and soprano voice.

Not only were the previous audience keen to hear more, but word had got around and the Church of St Mary & St George was packed with eager music lovers.

After a brief introduction by Father Kristian, Claudia introduced all the pieces to be performed. Over one blissful hour they shared baroque, classical and romantic masterpieces by Tisserand, Stradella, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Mercadante, Álvarez (no relation), Bizet & Fauré

Claudia Alvarez Calderón
& Father Kristian Paver
Father Kristian alternated between the church organ and piano, while Claudia held everyone's attention centre-stage with a series of spectacular soprano solo performances. Familiar pieces by well-known composers were interspersed with more exotic works from France, Italy and Spain.

After opening with Handel's "Thine be the Glory", the fourteenth century composition of Jean Tisserand, "O Filii et Filiae" (O Brother's and Sisters), made a splendid gothic introduction to the theme of the concert: "Alleluia". This was immediately followed by Mozart's motet "Exsultate, Jubilate" from 1772 which is a captivating cadenza of elaborately enunciated 'Alleluias'.

Claudia Alvarez Calderón
Claudia continued with the "Ave Verum Corpus" from the end of Mozart's life and a captivating and deeply emotional "Pregaria" (Prayer) from the previous century, by baroque Italian composer Allessandro Stradella. With only very delicate background piano accompaniment by Father Kristian, this impassioned exhortation brought the first half of the concert to a singularly moving conclusion.

Another Italian Easter hymn, "Salve Maria" by Saviero Mercadante, took us forward to the nineteenth century with equal passion, and led into another prayer, this time from nineteenth century Spain: "Plegaria" by Fermin Maria Álvarez. To the accompaniment of a pondorous funeral march on piano, Claudia began a deferential supplication to the Virgin Mary, imploring 'misericordia' (mercy) before extolling the many virtues of the Virgin engagingly in Spanish to a more lively piano accompaniment.

Claudia Alvarez Calderón
The programme finished with two more familiar songs. First Claudia sang a version of the "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God) written by Georges Bizet as the intermezzo for the 1872 production of Alphonse Daudet's play "L'Arlésienne". The closing song was from Sir Walter Scott's 1810 narrative poem, "The Lady of the Lake", set to music by Franz Schubert fifteen years later: Ellen's Third Song, "Ave Maria".

What a sweet ending that was! The captivated audience members were quite mesmerised by the beauty of the music, and only very timidly expressed the hope that there might be more. Claudia, quite in her element now, responded in just one word - 'Surprise.' The surprise was a reprise of the beautiful piece which had featured in the previous concert "Pie Jesu Domine, Dona Eis Requiem" (Dear Lord Jesus, Give Them Peace) from Gabriel Fauré's "Requiem in D minor".

What a splendid, celestial, sensation of a concert. Claudia's Easter selection, ably assisted by our accomplished accompanist Father Kristian, delighted us again with the wonders of coloratura singing, and took us on a fabulous journey through Europe, and through the centuries.

There will be a chance to hear recordings from the concert this Sunday (15 May 2016) on Soundart Radio (102.5 FM in Totnes/soundartradio.org.uk worldwide), during the "Classical Journey Redux" programme from 3-6pm. Even more exciting - Claudia herself will be in the studio to discuss the music, and to talk about her opera work in Italy. A red-letter day!

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