Friday, June 23, 2017
A summit reached at the end of a long journey : Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau at the Wigmore Hall, as the two year Complete Schubert Song series draws to a close. Unmistakably a high point in the whole traverse. A well planned programme, of much loved songs performed exceptionally well, with less well known repertoire presented with intelligent flourish. Boesch and Martineau began at the peak, with Schubert's Der Wanderer D493, (1816 Schmidt von Lübeck). "Ich komme vom Gebirge her". A deceptively simple phrase, but delivered by Boesch with great authority, for this song is the quintessential symbol of the whole Romantic revolution. The song is itself a journey. The resolute beginning gives way to desolation, then to the short, lyrical rtst "Wo bist du, wo bist du, mein Geliebtes Land". As Richard Stokes has written, the song "takes the form of a short cantata". Boesch's flexibility allowed him to mark the transitions clearly without sacrificing the line. In the last verse, his voice moved from firmness to despair, descending to ghostly whisper, so the last words rang out with anguished finality, connecting the last verse with the first. One of the most rewarding Der Wanderers I've ever heard, and I've heard hundreds. With its regular, repetitive lines, Der Pilgerweise D 789 (1823). can sometimes sound undistinguished, but Boesch and Martineau brought out its depths. The pilgrim is a beggar who struggles on though "Thread after thread is torn from the fabric of his happiness". So why carry on ? No mention of religious faith in this text, written by Schubert's raffish friend Franz von Schober. Perhaps this pilgrim is the epitome of an artist, driven to create. He's poor but has the gift of song. Boesch coloured the words with gentleness, suggesting quiet strength. Rewarded be, those who hear the song so well interpreted. In Der Wanderer an den Mond D870 (1826, Seidl), Martineau depicted the steady tramping pace in the piano part, over which the vocal lines floats with carefree lyricism. In some ways, this song is the opposite of Der Wanderer. In the context of this programme, we were looking backwards before moving forward. I had wondered why Boesch's body language had become quite jaunty towards the end of Der Wanderer an den Mond. This fitted the upbeat mood, but was also proved a good introduction to An den Mond (D468 (1816,Hölty) Provocatively, Boesch spoke a few words before starting. "What's this song about ? Who,is dead, the girl, or the man ?" It's a curious poem, with an unidentified protagonist gazing down from the sky. Who is weeping on who's grave ? A stimulating approach. There's no reason Lieder should be grim and stiff. Perhaps this was a song Schubert played in the company of friends, enjoying themselves for sheer pleasure. Two more happy songs: Der Zufriedene D320 (!815, Reissig) and Der Weiberfreund D271 (1815, Abraham Cowley, translated Ratschky). The first concise and pointed, the second second risqué. From contemporary drawings, we can assume that Liederabend audiences were open minded. Endless variety: the pious An Die Natur D372 (1815-6, Stolberg-Stolberg), with Bundeslied D258 (1815, Goethe0. Schubert treats this as drinking song, while Beethoven, setting the same text, makes connections to the drinking clubs of then time which fueled political action. Thus Boesch and Martineau ended the set with Lacheln und Weinen D777 (1823, Rückert). Laughter and tears - the landscape of Lieder is vast and varied. Der Seig D805, (1824 Mayerhofer) is an anthem, but its brave front is disguised by references to classical antiquity. The protagonist has slain the Sphinx. The song resumes in repose ("O unbewölktes Leben !") but the way Boesch sang the critical linen "Und meine Hand - sie traf" haunted the peace with a sense of horror. Two songs of Spring, Frühlingsglaube D686 (1820 Uhland) and Im Frühling with An den Schlaf D447 (1816, anon) and Abendstern D 806 (1824 Mayerhofer), beautifully articulated by Boesch and Martineau. This set of songs was balanced by the final set, with Prometheus D674 (1819 Goethe) and Grenzen der Menschheit D716 (1821 Goethe) , powerful songs which Boesch van sing with authority, all the more moving because his approach can evoke more sensitive feelings. Limitations of mankind, for men are human, not gods. Thus the unforced elegance of Boesch's An den Mind D296 (1819, Goethe and the tenderness in then two "motherhood" songs, Grablied für die Mutter D616 (1818 anon) and Die Mutter Erde D788 (1823 Stolberg-Stolberg). It's surprising that this song isn't done more often as it exemplifies many of the themes in this Wanderer journey. The piano introduction is finely poised, suggesting slow footsteps "schwer und schwül". In the moonlight, someone is being buried. Diminuendos and a minor key, but the mood is "erhellt von sanfter Hoffnungn Schein" Mother Earth holds us all. Death ,does not triumph. This concert was being recorded live. If it's released, this song will be one of the highlights. Boesch and Martineau's encores were An den Mond D296 (Goethe) and Nachtviolen D752 (!824 Mayrhofer).
Dvorak: String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 ‘American’ Schubert: String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 ‘Death and the Maiden’ Performed by the Dragon Quartet The Dragon String Quartet is an ensemble that was formed in 2012 of four celebrated, young Chinese musicians: first violinist Ning Feng, second violinist Wang Xiaomao, violist Zheng Wenxiao and cellist Qin Liwei. Ning Feng and Qin Liwei, both internationally established Chinese soloists, came up with the idea of forming a string quartet after a series of concerts that brought them together. Wang Xiaomao is concertmaster of China National Ballet Orchestra, Zheng Wenxiao is Principal Viola of Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Symphonie orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks). The Dragon String Quartet performs around the world regularly, introducing the masterworks of string quartet to the audiences, rediscovering rarely performed but outstanding pieces, and promoting contemporary works especially the great pieces created by Chinese composers. Here is Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet:
I sometimes tell people that in my next life I will play viola because I adore its dark and rich sound. today my favorite violist is Tabea Zimmermann. I find her to be a sensitive, musical, competent performer whose sound I love to enjoy. Her playing of Brahms, Schumann and Schubert can get me to stop doing anything and just listen. So… if you are so inclined, YOU might stop whatever you are doing, and see what I mean:
J. Strauss – Overtures: “The Gypsy Baron” and ” A Night in Venice “, I. Stravinsky Pulcinella – Suite, F. Schubert Symphony No.8 “Unfinished” in B minor, Symphony Nr. 4 “The Tragic” in C minor, J. Haydn Symphony Nr. 88 in G major, L. Beethoven Symphony Nr. […]
Earlier today I was blown away when I listened to Soprano Barbara Hendrix sing the music of Felix Mendelssohn. What struck me was what amazing skills she displayed in sustaining musical phrases. Personally, I find that so many singers seem to run out of breath at the end of an important musical statement, because they need air. Not so for Ms. Hendrix! What I heard was an amazing ability to bring so much meaning to both the poet’s words and the music, because the phrase remained out there, extended as it were for me to fully experience it. While I was unsuccessful in locating a video of ‘On Wings of Song’, which she sang for me this morning, I DID find her wonderful interpretation of Schubert’s ‘Du bist die Ruh’ (You are the Rest). Listen to Ms. Hendrix now and allow yourself to indulge in her sounds:
Recital (Liederabend) by Christiane Karg, soprano, with Andreas Staier, Harpsichord Venue: Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Angelika-Kauffmann-Saal Schwarzenberg, Vorarlberg, 6867, Austria Address: Hof 765, 6867 Schwarzenberg, Austria Date: On Saturday 17 June 2017 at 16:00 PROGRAM: Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Der Zauberer, K472 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Song, An Chloe, K524 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Song, Als Luise die Briefe, K520 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Song, Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling, K.596 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Song, Das Veilchen, K476 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Arietta in C, “Oiseaux, si tous les ans”, K307 (K284d) Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Arietta, “Dans un bois solitaire”, K308 (K295b) Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Song, Ridente la calma, K152 Works by Mendelssohn, Felix (1809-1847) Schubert, Franz (1797-1828) Vier Canzonen (Nr. 1 und 2: Vitorelli, Nr. 3 und 4: Metastasio), D.688 Schubert, Franz (1797-1828) Vedi quanto adoro (from Metastasio’s “Didone Abbandonata”), D.510 Haydn, Joseph (1732-1809) Arianna a Naxos, cantata, Hob XXVIb:2 PERFORMERS: Christiane Karg Soprano Andreas Staier Harpsichord Here is Ms. Karg in a duet from Le nozzle di Figaro by Mozart:
Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797 November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer. Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of his music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically in the decades following his death at the age of 31. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th Century. Today, Schubert is admired as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.
Great composers of classical music