The Brooklyn Art Song Society offers the gift of Schubert’s most-beloved songs

United StatesUnited States Brooklyn Art Song Society – Schubert: Bonus Concert: Sarah Nelson Craft (mezzo-soprano), Nils Neubert (tenor), Nana Shi (piano). Brooklyn Art Song Society, Soapbox Gallery, Brooklyn. First streamed on 12.12.2020. (RP)

Sarah Nelson Craft (mezzo-soprano)
© Joan Chiverton

Schubert – ‘Der Musensohn’ D.764, ‘Im Haine’ D.738, ‘An die Musik’ D.547, ‘Heidenröslein’ D.257, ‘Die Forelle’ D.550, ‘Am Tage Allerseelen’ D.343, ‘Seligkeit’ D.433, ‘An Sylvia’ D.891, ‘Fischerweise’ D.881, ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’ D.551, ‘Die junge Nonne’ D.828, ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’ D.774, ‘Ave Maria’ D.839

Each December, the Brooklyn Art Song Society bestows a gift on its subscribers in the form of a bonus concert. This year’s offering was some of the best-known and most-loved songs by Franz Schubert, sung by tenor Nils Neubert and mezzo-soprano Sarah Nelson Craft. It’s a gem of a recital.

The 13 songs are among those which did not fit neatly into BASS’s all-Schubert series of five concerts of songs by the Austrian composer: Die schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, Schwanengesang and recitals devoted to the themes of night and love. Even with this concert, BASS is only scratching the surface of the more than 600 vocal works by Schubert, and there would be plenty of favorites left for an audience-choice recital.

Neubert is the prototypical Lieder singer. Having spent his youth in Germany, his command of the language is absolute; it came as no surprise to discover that he teaches German diction at three of New York’s leading conservatories. In this recital, he was allotted a choice sampling of Schubert’s sunniest, most buoyant songs.

After the first few lines of ‘Der Musensohn’, Neubert established himself as a master song stylist with the purity of his voice and communicative skills. In such favorites as ‘Die Forelle’, ‘Heidenröslein’ and ‘An Sylvia’, he created vivid lyrical worlds with his gleaming lyric tenor and immediate connection with the texts. In a more reflective mood, Neubert captured the ephemeral passage of time in ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’ with equal ease.

Craft displayed grace and charm in lively renditions of ‘Heidenröslein’ and ‘Seligkeit’, but it was in the more poignant and dramatic songs that she fully revealed the rich beauty of her voice and her dramatic instincts. In ‘Am Tage Allerseelen’, a peaceful prayer requesting that the souls of those who did not find happiness in life rest in peace, she sang with sincerity and warmth. In ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’ and ‘Die junge Nonne’, Craft’s expression of character and mood perfectly depicted the myriad of emotions in two of Schubert’s most dramatic songs.

Nana Shi was equally masterful in telling a story. In the strophic songs, such as ‘Fischerweise’ and ‘Ave Maria’, each stanza, often each measure, was fresh and spontaneous. Shi has the ability to be in the moment at all times, thereby creating a sense of the unexpected with every note that she plays.

Any other year, BASS’s bonus concert would have been heard by a select few in live performance. This season, everyone can enjoy the recital by purchasing a ticket for a donation of any amount to BASS. By doing so, you not only will enjoy fine performances of Schubert songs, a tonic in the best of times, but also offer financial support to one of New York’s essential musical organizations at a moment when your help is needed most.

Rick Perdian

To listen to BASS’s Schubert Bonus Concert, click here.

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