Julian Wagstaff - Breathe Freely - Gramophone
Breathe Freely is a chamber opera for three singers and three instruments with music and libretto by Scottish composer Julian Wagstaff. Its subject is the chemistry department of the University of Edinburgh during the Second World War - the department commissioned the piece - with a backdrop of Scotland's role supporting the Polish resistance and the ethics of biochemical wartime research. In some ways I admire the clarity of the piece: Wagstaff keeps things simple, keeps the story straight and writes tonal, tuneful pieces with jaunty backing from the piano trio. Laura Margaret Smith is a spirited young mezzo with a full, fearless voice and the ability to inject big character into prosaic lines. She's a name to watch.