A Schubert Night to Remember

United KingdomUnited KingdomOxford Lieder Festival – The Schubert Project -. A Schubertiade : Sara Kramer (soprano), Raphaela Papadakis (soprano), Katie Bray (mezzo-soprano), Alessandro Fisher (tenor), Robert Murray (tenor), Jan Petryka (tenor), Benjamin Appl (baritone), Eugene Asti, Deidre Brenner, Sholto Kynoch, William Vann (piano): Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford 18.10.2014. (MH)

Schubert [table]
Tischlied, D234 Goethe
Die erste Liebe, D182 Fellinger
Frohsinn, D250 Castelli
Der Weiberfreund, D271 Cowley translated Ratschky
Die Fröhlichkeit, D262 Prandstetter
Freude der Kinderjahre, D 455 Köpken
Die Liebe, D522 Leon
Lilla an die Morgenröte, D273 Anon
Morgenlied, D381 Anon
An die Sonne,D272 Tiedge
Abendlied, D382 Anon
Schäfers Klagenlied, D121 Goethe
Blondel zu Marien, D626 Anon
Die junge Nonne, D828 Nicolaus
Das Heimweh, D456 Winkler
Grablied für die Mutter, D616 Anon
Der Knabe in der Wiege “Wiegenlied”, D579 Ottenwalt
Lied “Mutter geht durch ihre Kammern”, D373 Fouqué
An den Tod, D518 Schubart
Trost, D523 Anon
Die Allmacht, D852 Pyrker
Das Heimweh, D851 Pyrker
Der Wanderer, D489/493 Lübeck
Gott: höre meine Stimme, D190/5 Körner
Marie, D658 Hardenberg ‘Novalis’
Wiegenlied, D498 Anon
Abschied von der Erde, D829 Pratobevera
Das Bild, D155 Anon
Als ich sie erröten sah, D153 Ehrlich
Das Echo, D990c Castelli[/table]

On this evening a range of festival artists joined together for a special recital of songs, part songs, and piano duets interspersed with Austrian Wine, reminiscent of social gatherings at which many of Schubert’s works were heard for the first time.The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building [JdP] was an ideal location for this evening. Part of St Hilda’s College it is a lasting tribute to the famous cellist Jacqueline du Pré. The modern design of the Edward Boyle auditorium was in contrast to the platform which had been charmingly dressed to represent part of a Viennese salon with piano and artists seated informally around, the only thing missing in the illusion was period costume.

On arrival the capacity audience waiting in the loggia were offered Austrian wine provided appropriately by Merry Widow Wines. Wine tasting was a feature of the evening during breaks in the performance, when performers and audience mingled to chat, at the same time sampling different wines which were each introduced by Gavin Plumley. Two contrasting wines were offered at each interval and perhaps, not surprisingly, the evening for some became increasingly jolly, not only due to the choice of repertoire!

On arrival into the concert hall the audience were serenaded with delicate Piano Duets from Deidre Brenner and Sholto Kynoch. The latter is artistic Director of the festival and additionally should be congratulated for such an excellent project devoted to Schubert. Several of the performers took their places on the platform and an evening of Schubert commenced. The performances were consistently of a high calibre as expected.

Robert Murray opened the Liederabend with the Goethe Drinking Song [quite appropriately] Tischlied, with a cheeky glint in the eye, his clear tenor was a delight, with crisp clear enunciation. Raphaela Papadakis possessed a smooth, mellow toned soprano ideally suited to her pieces.The other soprano, Sarah Kramer also demonstrated a well rounded instrument, capable of expansive crescendos together with clear diction in pianissimo sections. Katy Bray, the only mezzo, had a warm voice at ease throughout the register and sympathetic in caressing the text. Tenor Alessandro Fisher performed fewer pieces than the others, and I believe stood in at the last moment. His lighter voice and facial expression in Der Weiberfreund were much enjoyed. Jan Petryka made an appealing contribution in Blondel zur Marien accompanied subtly by Deidre Brenner.

My personal favourite performer was Benjamin Appl, an obviously experienced baritone who performed with no music and expertly used the piano as a physical part of his performance.

Schäfers Klagenlied, An den Tod and Das Heimweh were vivid examples of true Lieder style. His smooth timbred baritone voice vividly colouring every word of the text with complete clarity and body language to match. Perhaps not surprising, as Appl is German and programme notes reveal he was the last-ever student of the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

The other accompanists Eugene Asti and William Vann were excellent in their sympathetic support of the singers as well as the most enjoyable solo interludes at the keyboard. Overall, it was a thoroughly artistic and enjoyable evening of wonderful music. Bringing Schuberts Vienna to Oxford described as ‘a once in a lifetime experience’ certainly lived up to its promise.

Martyn Harri

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