Clare McCaldin



1. Britten, Benjamin [01:46]
Mad Bess

2. Abrams, Harriet [03:11]
Crazy Jane

3. Brahms, Johannes [00:45]
Ophelia Lieder: I. Vie erkenn' ich dein Treuließ

4. Brahms, Johannes [00:38]
CHRCD111_04_Ophelia Lieder II. Sein Leichenhemd weiss.mp3

5. Brahms, Johannes [01:51]
Ophelia Lieder: III. Auf morgen ist Sankt Valentins Tag

6. Brahms, Johannes [00:58]
Ophelia Lieder: IV. Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloss

7. Brahms, Johannes [01:28]
Ophelia Lieder: V. Und kommt er nicht mehr zuruck?

8. Wolf, Hugo [03:25]
Gedichte von Eduard Morike: I. Agnes

9. Abrams, Harriet [02:42]
Gedichte von Eduard Morike: II. Lied vom Winde

10. Wolf, Hugo [02:41]
Gedichte von Eduard Morike: III. Seufzer

11. Abrams, Harriet [04:27]
Gedichte von Eduard Morike: IV. Wo find’ ich Trost

12. Wolf, Hugo [02:45]
Gedichte von Eduard Morike: V. Gebet

13. Rorem, Ned [02:38]
Ariel: I. Words

14. Rorem, Ned [03:14]
Ariel: II. Poppies in July

15. Rorem, Ned [02:40]
Ariel: III. The Hanging Man

16. Rorem, Ned [02:39]
Ariel: IV. Poppies in October

17. Rorem, Ned [05:57]
Ariel: V. Lady Lazarus

18. McNeff, Stephen [05:58]
Vivienne: I. Before Tom

19. McNeff, Stephen [05:49]
Vivienne: II. Eliot erect

20. McNeff, Stephen [04:56]
Vivienne: III. The Land of Lost Content

21. McNeff, Stephen [04:19]
Vivienne: IV. Bertie

22. McNeff, Stephen [04:45]
Vivienne: V. Through the Darkness I Can Hear

23. McNeff, Stephen [07:46]
Vivienne: VI. Belladonna

Clare McCaldin,
Libby Burgess,

In Notes from The Asylum mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin explores songs about female madness.

Clare writes “Early in my research I identified two types of song that appealed to me: presentations of madness in fictional characters and in real women whose experience is recorded in poetry or private correspondence.”

She begins with Mad Bess with music by Purcell, which can lay claim to being the first Restoration ‘mad song’, realised here by Benjamin Britten and given an operatic treatment Crazy Jane is the most sucessful composition by Harriet Abrams (c.1760–1821), a singer and reportedly a pupil of Thomas Arne.

Published posthumously in 1935, the Ophelia Lieder of Johannes Brahms were written in Vienna in November 1873 at the request of the celebrated Viennese actor Josef Lewinsky for his fiancée, the actress Olga Preicheisen, who was about to take the part of Ophelia in a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Prague.

Hugo Wolf, who ended his days in an asylum, set poems by Eduard Mörike in increasing numbers in the 1880s. The five songs featured here are all sung (or, in the case of Gebet, spoken) by the Ophelia-like character of Agnes as she appears in Mörike’s 1832 novel Maler Nolten (The Artist Nolten).

Ariel, Five Poems of Sylvia Plath, for soprano, clarinet and piano, by Ned Rorem, capture, often graphically, that turbulent phase of her life soon to be ended by her suicide at the age of 30.

Vivienne by Stephen McNeff is an opera in six songs, tracing the disastrous marriage of Vivienne Haigh-Wood to T.S. Elliot. Librettist Andy Rashleigh has given a voice to Vivienne, forcibly silenced by a barbaric regime of drugs and who died in an asylum, using Eliot’s poetry as a jumping-off point to create a powerful identity for Vivienne.



"A richly sung, richly imaginative recital. Valuable for McNeff’s 2013 monologue, Vivienne. McCaldin movingly portrays TS Eliot’s wife’s spiral into madness."

BBC Music Magazine

"Clare McCaldin... delivering great expression, beautifully shaping the text with moments of fine power..."

"...beautifully shaped by McCaldin ... both McCaldin and Burgess find just the right pathos."

"This is a quite remarkable gathering together of songs that evoke so many emotions."

"...beautifully recorded at Champs Hill's Music Room"

The Classical Reviewer

"...an interesting and thoughtful release from a small label."

"a generously filled disc... Vivienne is a tour de force and [McCaldin] relishes the excellent words by Andy Rashliegh ... the emotional [range] is enormous..."

Opera Now

"The performances are excellent. Clare McCaldin is superb. The voice is clear, warm ... she portrays each character with sensitivity and respect."

"Libby Burgess plays with wonderful warmth; her playing rounds out at each character's story."

"Terrific notes by McCaldin and Paul Conway."

American Record Guide

"Here [Clare McCaldin] proves as effective an interpreter as a curator."

"...the text of Vivienne comes through pristinely, a tribute to McNeff's skill as a setter of words..."

Opera News


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