Scots song does not get a great deal of airing during the Edinburgh Festivals in August – yes, Festivals: International, Fringe, Arts, etc., etc. – but Rachel Liddell and pianist Jamie Lang took a lead in their song recital during the Fringe at St Andrew’s and St George’s West; and the sizeable gate clearly agreed. Young recitalists don’t often stray from the well-trodden so it was adventurous of this pair to try out a somewhat overgrown path (yes: a Janacek joke).
Schumann’s Myrthen contains eight Burns settings and the duo kicked off with four, including Weit weit and the delightful Hochländisches Wiegenlied. A slim straw poll afterwards revealed that even among keen followers of the German lied these were eye-openers. Now followed the shrewdness of the recital. Settled unexpectedly into an accustomed genre we were taken seamlessly into the modern Scottish world: very modern for James MacMillan and almost so for Frances George Scott (1880 – 1958). Good on them: Scott songs had been highlighted at the opening of Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall 30 years back and rarely heard since. Interesting that they now appeal to two young musicians.
Lighter songs of Bolcom, Cage and Charles brought the audience back to equilibrium; but Liddell’s warm clarity and Lang’s perceptively adroit keyboard are a combination worth looking out for.