Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Aldeburgh Festival 2008 @ Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh

26, 27 June 2008

Our coverage of the 2008 Aldeburgh Festival continues, with Schubert, Schumann and Britten linking two concerts a night apart.

The Northern Sinfonia, under its Artistic Director Thomas Zehetmair, gave a programme at the Maltings of Schubert songs, the “Rhenish” Symphony and a new work by John Woolrich. The following morning, young artists Katherine Broderick and Philip Carmichael gave a lieder recital at Jubilee Hall.

Unlike his later arrangement of the Ricercar from A Musical Offering, in which he threatens to engulf Bach, Webern took a bit of a back seat with his early orchestrations of Schubert songs. He chose one from each of the big cycles plus the Romanze from Rosamunde and perhaps Schubert’s loveliest lied, Du bist die Ruh and the result is hypnotically beautiful. Austrian baritone Florian Boesch, seen only in this country so far at Wigmore Hall, sang with great sensitivity, exquisite pianissimos contrasting with full-bloodied passion. In Die Forelle, the arranger (Britten) is a little more to the fore, rippling clarinets competing with the vocalist, and again Boesch delivered with tremendous panache.

As Thomas Ads’ Associate Artistic Director, and set to continue as such under the incoming Pierre-Laurent Aimard, John Woolrich has three works in this year’s festival, of which the Violin Concerto was a world premiere. Played with earnest concentration by its dedicatee, Carolin Widmann, it is an eventful and entertaining piece. The flowing legato of the soloist barely ceases during the one movement work, as the ensemble glides from a boisterous and loud opening, sounding like an over-punctuated sentence cascades of semi-colons, plucked strings and constant ponging on the glockenspiel to a still lake of almost unruffled calm. A brassy and swift performance of Schumann’s Third Symphony ended the evening on a fresh and airy note.

Soprano Katherine Broderick has featured on this site with some regularity and it was good to catch up with her again at a Britten-Pears Alumni recital in Jubilee Hall. Schumann’s Die Tochter Jephtas brimmed with drama and Broderick rang an effective contrast with the contemplative An den Mond. A return to a more declamatory style with Dem Helden suggested that this singer has bags of reserve the big Wagner roles beckon!

Three Clara Schumann songs followed. The effect of words well-known from Schwannengesang (a second outing for Ihr Bildnis) and Mahler’s Rckert Lieder (Liebst du um Schnheit) with unfamiliar melodies is a strange one (ref. Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s setting of Im wunderschnen Monat Mai from Schumann’s Dichterliebe very disorientating).

We know Mendelssohn’s treatment of the tripping fairy world from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he evokes it as strongly in the accompaniment of Neue Liebe (stylishly played by James Baillieu) as in the words. Here the song prompted a deserved extra round of applause for both performers. Storytelling is to the fore also in Mendelssohn’s Hexenlied, with which Broderick and Baillieu ended their selection. The soprano’s final “Tally Ho” (Juchheissa) surely foreshadows the Valkyrie’s cry.

Four Schubert songs and Britten’s Songs & Proverbs of William Blake was a substantial programme for baritone Philip Carmichael to undertake. Sebastian Wybrews assured playing showed-up a tentativeness in Carmichael’s presentation, with only the hushed final verse of Um Mitternacht (Schulze not Rckert) among the lieder getting any real focus.

The muscularity of Blake’s words and Britten’s settings helped settle the mind but there was still a tendency for the hands to wander and wonder what they should be doing, here describing various shapes, there tugging at a jacket’s hem. There was beauty of tone and some incisive word-pointing but a lesson in holding the stage from Florian Boesch wouldn’t go amiss.

No related posts found...