Layla Claire is one of a handful of young Canadian singers making something of a splash on both sides of the Atlantic with major roles in Glyndebourne, Zürich, Toronto and Salzburg and an upcoming Pamina at the Met. Her debut recital CD Songbird, with pianist Marie-Eve Scarfone, was recently issued on the ATMA Classique label. It’s an interesting and varied collection of songs though never straying very far from familiar recital territory. It’s tilted towards French (Gounod, Chausson, Debussy, Fauré, Bizet) and German (Wolf, Strauss, Brahms, Liszt) repertoire but there’s also Quilter, Barber, Argento and Britten (the comparatively rare Seascape which is, oddly, omitted from the CD liner).
It’s rather good. She sings with excellent diction in all three languages. Her voice is rather beautiful in a limpid sort of way though she can be expressive and playful as in Wolf’s Ich hab in Penna einen Liebsten and she can spin out a long, elegant line as in Quilter’s Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. Her vibrato is well controlled and unobtrusive. Ms. Scarfone’s accompaniments are apt and very much of a piece with the singing. It’s a very creditable first album.
The recording, made in the Salle Françoys-Bernier in Saint Irénée, is crisp and clear and entirely appropriate for the rep. The booklet includes original language texts for all the songs but no translations.