Opera + Classical Music Reviews

Karita Mattila / Martin Katz @ Wigmore Hall, London

10 September 2010

If I were wise”, said Karita Mattila, acknowledging the thunderous applause after her recital, “I would not sing another note but I’m not”.

This is such an honour for me, to be here in this most beautiful hall, with this very special audience so I will sing one song, and it is for you. That one song was of course Richard Strauss Zueignung and it was sung and played with the lustrous tone and impassioned fervour which had characterized the rest of the evenings music.

This was the first concert of the Wigmore season, always a hot ticket, since whoever is singing, the audience can count on experiencing that frisson which comes with being a part of something unique; greeting each other like long lost friends, Wigmore regulars, newcomers and staff mingled in delightful bonhomie, and you could almost have touched the excitement in the hall as the lights dimmed. We were not disappointed; despite a cold, Mattilas singing was as thrillingly dramatic in the recital hall as it is in opera. She began with a strikingly rapt Berg group, the sublime warning at the close of Nacht visceral in its immediacy, and the attention given to words and phrases such as Die Rosen ‘aufgesprungen (Die Nachtigall) and so reich an Sehnsucht! (Liebesode)’ both exact and fervent.

Martin Katz partnered her superbly, nowhere more so than in the wondrous nachspiel of Brahms’ ‘Der Gang zum Liebchen’ and the shimmering phrases of Sibelius’ ‘Illale’. Not surprisingly, it was the Strauss group which showed this ideal partnership at its best, with Allerseelen the high point of the recital; this unashamedly romantic song, in which the poet remembers his lost beloved and longs for her with searing intensity, allowed Katz to display his unaffected mastery of those typically Straussian arpeggios, and demonstrated Mattila’s unmistakeable sensitivity to language, the ardour of the plea in ‘dass ich dich wieder habe’ almost raw in its poignancy.

The encore sent the audience out in a mood of happy fulfilment, as well as anticipation of the delights of the season to come well be featuring many of the concerts in our news page and reviews, but just as a taster, within one week, September 13th-19th, youll be able to hear Ian Bostridge, Angelika Kirchschlager, Matthias Goerne, the Artemis Quartet, the Razumovsky Ensemble and Anthony Marwood, in music by Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann and Wolf.

Further details of Wigmore Hall concerts can be found at wigmore-hall.org

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