Paul Turner (piano) and Clare McCaldin (mezzo-soprano) delight Funtington Music Group

Review by Chris Linford, Chichester University Chapel of the Ascension

Clare McCaldin
Clare McCaldin

Members of the Funtington Music Group were treated on 10 October at the University of Chichester to a fascinating behind the scenes lecture recital by Paul Turner [piano], and Clare McCaldin [mezzo-soprano], on the “Art of the Accompanist - Working towards a Perfect Performance.”

Paul Turner, who has worked with many eminent musicians throughout the world, began by correcting common misconceptions about the art of the accompanists, preferring the view of two artists working together rather than the accompanist simply supporting the solo artist. He explained that trust is vital between the two musicians and that it is necessary for the accompanist to have real empathy with the soloist, and be ready to adjust, say, his emphasis of musical phrasing or speed of playing. He pointed out that he had worked with Clare McCaldin for a number of years, and so they both had built up that vital “trust” in each other. The two artists then spent the first half giving examples from the programme that was to follow, the pitfalls that could occur and on one occasion he had Clare and the audience in fits of laughter after one classic musical fiasco. It gave the audience a fascinating insight into the preparation that was necessary for the music that was to follow after the interval.

After an introductory rather joyful Sailor’s Song, by Haydn, Clare McCaldin sang a selection of songs by Faure, including Mandoline and Les Berceaux. Her performance of these French songs created appropriate atmospheric emotions, and her diction and phrasing were a real asset to this performance. She then moved effortlessly from French to German, with an effective performance of four of the challenging Mignon Lieder Songs by Hugo Wolf. She demonstrated great and varied musical expression in her beautiful interpretation of this really demanding work.

The concert concluded with a selection of songs that included works by Vaughan Williams and Gurney, concluding with a late 20th Century piece by Geoffrey Bush. Clare McCalden delivered her songs with sensitivity and variety, employing a palette of vocal skills that produced a first class performance. Paul Turner’s accompaniment was throughout discrete and supportive, always drawing attention to the music and detail of the singing unobtrusively and effectively.

Chris Hough, Chairman of Funtington Music Group, said, “This was a memorable evening with two outstanding musicians. Paul Turner’s sensitive approach together with Clare McCalden’s expressive performance, demonstrated the true skills of an excellent accompanist. My thanks go to both Paul and Clare”