Austria Salzburg Festival – Schubert and Strauss: Mauro Peter (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano). Grosser Saal, Mozarteum, Salzburg, 20.8.2019. (MB)
Schubert – Ganymed, D 544; Sehnsucht, D 123; Rastlose Liebe, D 138; Meeres Stille, D 216; Wandrers Nachtlied II, D 768; Der Fischer, D 225; Der König in Thule, D 367; Erlkönig, D 328; Erster Verlust, D 226; Versunken, D 715; Geheimes, D 719; An die Entfernte, D 765; Willkommen und Abschied, D 767
Strauss –Heimliche Aufforderung, Op.27 No.3; Wozu noch, Mädchen, Op.19 No.1; Breit’über mein Haupt, Op.19 No.2; Traum durch die Dämmerung, Op.29 No.1; Ich liebe dich, Op.37 No.2; Mädchenblumen, Op.22; Ständchen, Op.17 No.2; Liebeshymnus, Op.32 No.3; Ich trage meine Minne, Op.32 No.1; Freundliche Vision, Op.48 No.1; Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten, Op.19 No.4
To the Mozarteum for a lovely programme of nineteenth-century song: Schubert and Strauss from Mauro Peter and Helmut Deutsch. If the latter took a little while to come into his own, more consistently at home in Strauss than in Schubert, that should not be exaggerated – and a couple of Schubert encores were just as impressive as two Strauss additions. Peter shone throughout, fully justifying and furthering his already high reputation as a thoughtful, musical, and highly likeable musical performer.
The (programmed) Schubert songs were all Goethe settings. Ganymed proved perfect as an opener: expectant as its call of ‘Frühling, Geliebter!’ Its minor-mode shades were just as telling, setting the scene for climax and subsidence. Sehnsucht offered both emotional turn and progression: fine programming, fully realised in Peter’s performance. Darker colouring, for instance, on ‘finster und finstrer’ (‘dark and darker’) was subtle yet unmistakeable. One might almost have translated the text from that alone. Deutsch’s piano ripples in Meeres Stille were just the thing, finely complemented by a rapt, deep, Romantic miniature in the second Wandrers Nachtlied. Schubert as post-Mozartian was captured in fine balance by both artists in Der Fischer, an interesting, convincing prelude to the captivating storytelling of Der König in Thule and, of course, a highly dramatic account of Erlkönig. The sadness of Erster Verlust, profound sensitivity of An die Entfernte, and final synthetic twists of Willkommen und Abschied were further highlights to this first half.
Heimliche Aufforderung provided an exultant opening to the Strauss half: a different variety of expectancy that yet balanced the first. The opera house was closer, yes, but still distant. Never did Peter give the impression he would rather be onstage, though the appetite was whetted for Strauss roles that may well lie in the future. ‘O komm, du wunderbare, ersehnte Nacht!’ Indeed. Intelligent, meaningful programming again offered a sound foundation for excellent performances, Wozu noch, Mädchen leading naturally – whatever the artifice in reality – to Breit’ über mein Haupt, which in turn seemed answered by Traum durch die Dämmerung, and so on. Ich liebe dich strongly suggested Ariadne’s Bacchus: a fine, tantalising close to the first group. The four Mädchenblumen received performances as loving as they were ardent: not a bad way at all to approach Strauss. Peter’s command of detail, be it verbal or musical, was as keen as ever, indeed exemplary. ‘Was je die Romantik von Elfen geträumt hat.’ A riveting Ständchen, ecstatic yet far from exaggerated Liebeshymnus, and confiding Freundliche Vision all made their mark in a progression to the final, impetuous Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten: spring, then transformed by what we had heard and felt, Schubert’s Ganymed recalled, enriched, yet not quite revisited. Morgen would, inevitably, be the final close – and yes, a tear came to my eye even before the voice had entered.