The tub of hot chocolate topped with cream on arrival at the candle lit Old Saint Paul's Scottish Episcopal Church towards the end of a busy day at the Fringe is extraordinarily welcome. With a considerable sized audience to hear them, soprano Sally Carr and clarinetist Calum Robertson were ready to enchant us - and they succeeded.
Michael Nyman's Mannahatta song is taken from the early name of New York's Manhattan and Walt Whitman's ever altering poetry 'I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city'. Calum was accompanying with his bass clarinet.
Calum played James MacMillan's hauntingly beautiful solo for A clarinet, From Galloway. This was first performed in Glasgow in 2000 by Calum's clarinet teacher, John Cushing, now retired from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Three songs by Gordon Jacob followed where we really came to appreciate Sally's lovely voice. She is a music student at Edinburgh University studying voice under Susan Hamilton.
Even though he had the benefit of being on home ground, Calum's introductions to the music were firm, concise, charming and encouraging. I enjoy watching his career and confidence develop. He enjoyed telling us how the title of the next work, After the Tryst, was pronounced - something he had learned from James MacMillan himself. For this work he was playing his B flat clarinet.
The best was kept to the last. Contemporary American composer Lori Laitman’s powerful song cycle I Never Saw Another Butterfly captures the voices of six extraordinary poems by Terezín Concentration Camp's child prisoners, I never saw another butterfly: The Butterfly, Yes, that’s the way things were, Birdsong, The Garden, Man Proposes, God disposes, The Old House. They honour the lives and legacy of those remarkable persons – especially children – whose creative work was an expression of spiritual resistance to tyranny. Very movingly sung by Sally and which Calum brought to a slow, thoughtful and silent finish.
Performance: Thursday 15th August 2017 at 10.00pm.The Hot Chocolate at 10 series continues until Friday 25th August 2017