Sara Macliver

Seraphim

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ABC Classics has done a stellar job of bringing Australian performers and composers to the attention of international audiences. This 2011 album features soprano Sara Macliver, a versatile singer who is as comfortable with pieces like Fauré's "Pie Jesu" and Bernstein's "Somewhere" as with the Baroque coloratura repertoire for which she's most widely known. Half of the tracks are devoted to Baroque arias and half to a sampling of pieces ranging from Mozart to Joni Mitchell. About half of the selections were newly recorded and the rest were taken from earlier releases. The title, Seraphim, is appropriate; Macliver's voice is angelic -- pure, chaste, and bright, ideal for the Baroque repertoire -- and she sings with an effortless agility. Generally she uses a relatively straight tone, which at moments, particularly in Handel's "Angels, Ever Bright and Fair," has a gleaming brightness that might be mistaken for a trumpet. Most of the selections are joyful and Macliver brings to them an engaging spirit of ebullience. The arias are mostly familiar and include Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim," Purcell's "Hark! now the echoing air," and Bach's "Mein gläubiges Herze," and "Schafe könne sicher weiden." A little-known gem is Arne's "The glitt'ring Sun," a shimmering, glowing depiction of a sunrise. Macliver shines (literally and figuratively) in the more recent repertoire as well. Mozart's "Laudate Dominum" is especially radiant, and she brings warmth and eloquent expressiveness to the selections from Ravel's Cinq mélodies populaires grecques and Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne. A variety of Australian orchestras, most frequently Orchestra of the Antipodes led by Brett Weymark, provide very fine, idiomatic accompaniment. The only exception is the chamber group accompanying Purcell's "Now that the sun hath veiled his light," a piece that ought to leap out in its sublime strangeness but comes across here as plodding. The recordings were made at a variety of venues over a period of a decade, but the sound is always clean, well balanced, and immediate.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Samson, HWV57
1 5:16 Amazon
Cantata No. 5: The Morning
2 1:55 Amazon
Il Bajazet [Il Tamerlano], RV703
3 5:01 Amazon
Cantata BWV68 'Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt' (For God so loved the world)
4 3:27 Amazon
The Fairy Queen, Z629
5 2:38 Amazon
Theodora, HWV68
6 4:27 Amazon
7 4:28 Amazon
Cantata BWV208 'Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd' (A merry hunt is the only thing that gives me pleasure)
8 4:38 Amazon
9 3:16 Amazon
Vesperae solennes de confessore (Solemn Vespers of a Confessor), KV339
10 4:04 Amazon
Zaide, KV344
11 6:47 Amazon
L'anima del filosofo [Orfeo ed Euridice] (The Soul of the Philosopher [Orpheus and Eurydice]), Hob.28:13
12 6:23 Amazon
Requiem, Op. 48
13 4:18 Amazon
Cinq mélodies populaires grecques (Five Popular Greek Melodies)
14 2:52 Amazon
15 6:16 Amazon
16 3:25 Amazon
17 2:29 Amazon
18 5:02 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick