Amber Wagner and Malcolm Martineau, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh * * *
Warm vibrato tone, dramatic throwing back of the head on high notes, and a voice which seemed to be set to loud or louder are all well and good, but the Queen’s Hall, with its intimate acoustic, was perhaps not the best venue in which to hear Wagner. Repertoire too seemed to sit uneasily with her voice. Three love songs by Bellini gave no hint of the high jinks of his operas, and although there was an ease to Wagner’s phrasing, the reflective and sorrowful texts called for a gentler approach.
As in the Strauss Vier letzte Lieder to follow, the words were often difficult to make out and much of their sensitive colouring fell to pianist Malcolm Martineau, whose playing was at times heart-achingly beautiful. Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder made for a more satisfying second half, but it was her encore, the gospel hymn His Eye is On The Sparrow, that heard Wagner at her most convincing.