Oxford Prepares for its Lieder Festival 2012 (October 12th to 27th)

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Oxford Prepares for its Lieder Festival 2012 (October 12th to 27th)

This ambitious festival, now in its eleventh year, claims to be the biggest event devoted to song in the world, and the organisers are probably correct. Certainly it attracts the cream of international singing talent to the city.

The fortnight of song opens with Sandrine Piau in a recital of French Song on October 12th; it ends on Saturday 27th with a Schubert recital by Susanna Andersson and Stephen Loges with Festival Director Sholto Kynoch at the piano …… and there is plenty in-between.

Schubert’s two great song cycles feature as usual with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau performing Die schöne Müllerin on 14th , while Matthew Hargreaves and Sholto Kynoch take us on Winterreise on 21st. OLF’s project to perform all of Wolf’s song settings continues on the 13th and 15th; this time the focus is on the Spanisches Liederbuch for which Sholto Kynoch has assembled a formidable team consisting of Birgid Steinberger, Cora Burggraff, Benjamin Hulett and Marcus Farnsworth.

Sophie Daneman and Christopher Purves join forces to sing works by Purcell, Debussy and Schumann on 16th, and Sophie will also be giving a masterclass for non-professional singers. James Gilchrist will be showing would-be professionals the ropes as well as giving a recital of Purcell, Ravel, Schubert, Berntein and Britten partnered by pianist Anna Tilbrook on 19th. Many of the performances take place in the delightful 18th century Holywell Music Room which is well suited to music of this type.

On Saturday 20th the singing will be virtually non-stop with two recitals devoted to song settings of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad and Shakespeare, Lucie Crowe singing Songs of London, and a late night event devised by Iain Burnside in which John Mark Ainsley sings Finzi’s A Young Man’s Exhortation.

The second week is as glittering and crowded as the first with Kitty Whately performing Frauenliebe und Leben on 21st, Andrei Bondarenko singing Schumann’s Liederkreis Op 39 and Russian songs on 22nd. Former Cardiff Singer of the World winner Katerina Karnéus drops by on 23rd to sing Sibelius, Strauss, Schumann and Delius Strauss, and the following evening there is an interesting recital of songs by Brahms and Mendelssohn when Sarah Connolly is joined by violist Philip Dukes.

There is much more to savour at this well established event which goes from strength to strength: Alice Coote singing French song, a recital by the two winning duos from the Oxford Lieder Young Artist Programme 2011, Janáček’s Diary of One who Disappeared sung by Robert Murray, as well as opportunities to participate for amateurs and professionals alike. Programme details are available from http://oxfordlieder.co.uk.

Roger Jones