Christine Brewer Lavishes Affection on American Songs

22/08/2015

eif-2015-115

Edinburgh International Festival 2015 (17) – Schubert, Clara Schumann, Joseph Marx, Strauss,  American composers:  Christine Brewer (soprano), Roger Vignoles (piano), Queen’s Hall, 22.8.2015 (SRT)

I began this concert worried about Christine Brewer’s health, as she had to be helped onto the stage by Roger Vignoles.  (It turns out she’s waiting for a knee replacement).  However, for a while I was worried about her voice, too, because much of the gleam, vigour and effortlessness that has been so apparent in her earlier recitals was thin on the ground.

In fact, much of her sequence by Schubert and Clara Schumann sounded rather pinched, with phrasing effortful and top notes struggled for.  Perhaps it was just the early hour, though, because things improved for the Marx and Strauss selection.  Marx’s Waldseligkeit brimmed with ecstasy, and Brewer was dependable as ever in the Strauss favourite Allerseelen.  It’s possible that some of the voice’s former brilliance has waned, but only time will tell.

One suspects, though, that Brewer’s heart was really in the second half of this concert.  This was a self-curated selection of songs, primarily by American composers, which great sopranos of a former age had often included in their recitals or used as encores.  Engagingly, Brewer talked us through each one, with some details of either the composer or the singer with whom it was linked, including Kirsten Flagstad, Eleanor Steber and Helen Traubel, and I wondered more than once whether Brewer was putting herself on the same level as them?  Either way, affection for her material ran through the second half, and that led to some beautiful performances, most notably Sidney Homer’s Sing to me, sing and Harold Vicars’ Song of Songs; though I most enjoyed Celius Dougherty’s Review, where he sets his own piece of criticism to music, sending up both the critic’s and the musician’s trade in the process.

The concert was recorded for BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast on Friday 28th August.  See here for full details.

Simon Thompson

The 2015 Edinburgh International Festival runs until Monday 31st August at venues across the city.  For full details go to www.eif.co.uk

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra at St John’s Smith Square’s 2017 Christmas Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H