Taylor Wilson is a very fine mezzo-soprano who trained at the Conservatoire in Glasgow and since then has made a good reputation for herself in opera and in concerts. Today, she is accompanied by the very experienced Margaret Murray McLeod on piano as part of the University’s lunchtime concert series, an important part of Edinburgh’s musical life.
The concert begins with a song cycle by Robert Schumann, Frauenliebe und Leben (A Woman’s Love and Life). This is based on a series of eight poems by Adalbert Von Chamisso which deals with a woman’s life through love, motherhood, devotion and finally death. Wilson sings these beautiful melodic songs with great feeling, using her powerful yet nuanced mezzo voice to bring out the meaning. Her German diction is excellent.
We then hear a series of songs by Edinburgh composer John Mcleod, commissioned by Live Music Now in Scotland. These songs were the result of visits to care homes in Scotland and Wales by McLeod and musicians to record memories of working in the coal mines. In a series of powerful songs, McLeod captures the pains and the pleasures of these mining communities, including the tragedy of Aberfan and ends with a poem by Wilfred Owen. Wilson sings these modern, melodic songs with great power and conviction, bringing out the tragedy of the miners’ lives. McLeod is in the audience today, and takes a bow at the end.
To finish, Wilson gives us two little known songs by the great German composer Kurt Weill. Taylor is a specialist in Kurt Weill and her one woman show of Weill’s work Take a Walk on the Weill Side has received high praise and is due to tour in Europe before returning to the Edinburgh Festival next year. These songs were written in French in Weill’s time there in 1933, at the beginning of his exile from Germany and before he moved to New York in 1935. First song Youkali reflects his search for Utopia and the second Je me t’aime pas (I Don’t Love You) could have been how he felt about his estranged wife Lotte Lenya, although they later reunited. Taylor shows that her French is as equally fluent as her German. She sings and acts the songs with great passion. She is a voice we will hear much of in the future.