At the end of his recital, Christopher Maltman apologized to the audience for only being able to offer one encore because, as he put it: ‘I've had a bit of a throat thing all week.’ That Maltman was under the weather had, indeed, been apparent. He coughed and cleared his throat from time to time between songs. At one point, a pulse intruded on his dark, weighty baritone.
None of this mattered very much. Maltman slightly off form is better than many singers at their best. He has always been prepared to take risks, and is such a superb communicator that one willingly forgives the occasional inequality. In a group of Wolf songs, he segued in a flash from the nightmare intensity of Der Feuerreiter to the whimsical Der Gärtner.
He was wonderful in French songs, too, where his dark voice is often strangely disturbing. In Duparc, he avoids the breathy, overtly sexy approach adopted by many, hinting at deeper ambivalences within the music. Listening to him sing L'Invitation au Voyage, you end up wondering just exactly what the nature of the relationship is between the narrator and a beloved whom he calls ‘my child, my sister’. La Vague et la Cloche, meanwhile, was a tour de force of baleful intensity, in which Maltman was superbly aided by his pianist Julius Drake. That one encore, meanwhile, was Flanders and Swann's Misalliance - funny, bitingly satirical, and faultlessly done. Tim Ashley, The Guardian Tuesday 19 June 2007.
"A tour de force of baleful intensity, in which Maltman was superbly aided by his pianist Julius Drake"