Dmitry Masleev

Dmitry Masleev
Dmitry Masleev (b. 1988), pianist – First Prize (XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2017 – Part II. Special Awards 2017













At a glittering and star-studded ceremony in central London, the 2017 Gramophone Classical Music Awards – this year presented in association with the Pan-Armenian Symphony Orchestra, Qobuz, Naim Audio and the BPI – unveiled the special awards and presented the 12 recording category Awards that were revealed a fortnight ago.

Isabelle Faust's Harmonia Mundi recording of the Mozart violin concertos with Il Giardino Armonico directed by Giovanni Antonini was named Gramophone's Recording of the Year (sponsored by Qobuz). Isabelle Faust was in São Paulo but sent a video message of thanks.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Presto Classical) for her glorious career as one of the best-loved sopranos of our time. The actor and singer Julian Ovenden made the presentation.

The conductor Vasily Petrenko received the Artist of the Year Award, the result of a public vote by over 8000 Gramophone readers and visitors to Gramophone's website.

The Young Artist of the Year Award, supported by Help Musicians UK, went to the Italian pianist Beatrice Rana whose Warner Classics recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations made it to the final round of the awards this year.

Label of the Year (sponsored by Classical:Next) went to Signum Classics and its MD Steve Long received for award for a consistently imaginative approach to A&R.

The composer, producer and founder of NMC, Colin Matthews, received a Special Achievement Award from Sir Mark Elder for his services to contemporary British music and Classic FM received a Special Anniversary Award, marking the 40th anniversary of the Awards, for the station's championing of classical music.

Other artists receiving their Awards – which were presented by Gramophone's James Jolly and the violinist Jennifer Pike – included the pianist Murray Perahia (Instrumental), singers Iestyn Davies (Baroque Vocal sponsored by Mrs Joan Jones) and Carolyn Sampson (Choral, sponsored by IDAGIO), the violinist and director of La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler (Baroque Instrumental), composer and conductor George Benjamin (Contemporary, sponsored by Naim Audio), Phantasm (Early Music), the Silesian Quartet (Chamber, sponsored by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute), the tenor Mauro Peter (Opera).Video acceptances came from Giovanni Antonini (Orchestral, sponsored by the European Foundation for Support of Culture, and Concerto), Joyce DiDonato (Recital, sponsored by Primephonic) and Matthias Goerne (Solo Vocal).

Live music came from the Pan-Armenian Symphony and their founder and conductor Sergey Smbatyan, The Tallis Scholars and Peter Philips (recipients of the 1987 Recording of the Year who returned to mark the Awards' anniversary), Beatrice Rana, Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies with the pianist Joseph Middleton and last year's Young Artist of the Year, Benjamin Appl, who joined the orchestra for Carl Millöcker's heart-stopping operetta aria "Dunkelrote Rosen" from Gasparone.

The awards were streamed live on the Gramophone website, medici.tv and via Classic FM's Facebook page.

Source: gramophone.co.uk, September 13, 2017


Part II. Special Awards 2017




Anniversary Award

Classic FM

When Classic FM's Managing Editor, Sam Jackson, receives Gramophone's special Anniversary Award (given to mark the 40th anniversary of the Gramophone Classical Music Awards) at the ceremony on September 13, the station will have just marked a special anniversary of its own: 25 years of national broadcasting in the UK (as one of only three independent national radio stations). It launched on September 7, 1992, and has become, in that quarter century, one of the most significant broadcasters in this country, with a weekly reach of 5.8 million listeners, 1.2 million of whom are under 35. Classic FM has become the world's biggest classical music brand on Facebook, with videos there watched by around 17 million people every month. Two thirds of those who "like" Classic FM on Facebook are also under 35 and it shares more of its audience with Radio 1 than Radio 3, again showing its significant role in developing younger audiences for classical music. Whatever their age, though, more people listen to classical music on Classic FM than via any other broadcast medium.

It would be foolish to argue that Classic FM and Gramophone are a natural fit – our broadcast "mirror image" is clearly BBC Radio 3 – but it would be equally foolish to underestimate Classic FM's role in the musical life of this country. Supporting live music-making is not a requirement of a national radio station but Classic FM backs up its role as a national broadcaster by engaging with live music up and down the country. It maintains strong partnerships with orchestras across the nation and regularly promotes concerts, a powerful way of developing closer ties with its audiences. It works tirelessly with all of its partners to make classical music accessible to as broad an audience as possible.

Where Classic FM comes closest to "our world" is in its championing of recordings and its unwavering support for the classical record industry (at a time when classical music is finding it harder and harder to secure those column inches from arts editors with no interest in the genre). Giving new releases the oxygen of publicity is vital to ensure that recorded music maintains visibility in an increasingly information-packed world. While it would be easy to portray Classic FM and Radio 3 as being separated by a yawning gulf, there are numerous artists and recordings that fit quite comfortably into the outputs of both networks. Classic FM plays an important role in promoting today's artists in an increasingly indifferent world.

Add in 24 hour-a-day broadcasting, seven days a week, and you have the destination of choice for a substantial number of people. And the station's cleverly chosen line-up of presenters has added to one of the broadcasting success stories of recent times. We wish Classic FM well for its next 25 years.

Source: gramophone.co.uk














Artist of the Year

Vasily Petrenko

Still a boyish 41, Vasily Petrenko makes a return to the Gramophone Classical Music Awards this year having been our Young Artist of the Year back in 2007 (a year when, unusually, our Artist of the Year, Hilary Hahn, was younger!). His work with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the ensemble he has led first as Principal Conductor and then as Chief Conductor since 2006, continues to impress, and no more so than in the set of Tchaikovsky's Symphonies Nos. 3, 4 and 6, released by Onyx earlier this year, and which was received with universal acclaim, clinching Gramophone's Recording of the Month in March. Mark Pullinger remarked that "Petrenko's fast and furious approach once again pays off with invigorating performances which dispel Russian gloom. The RLPO play their socks off and must rank as one of the finest ‘Russian orchestras’ in the UK today". For a St Petersburg-trained conductor, it must have been with some satisfaction that MP drew comparisons (in the Fourth Symphony) with Yevgeny Mravinsky. The Pathétique, a crowning performance here in every respect, is characterised by vivid dynamics and a wonderful control of intensity.

If Petrenko drew on his Russian roots in the Tchaikovsky, he drew on the orchestra's in another of this year's recording projects (and another Onyx release): a disc of Edward Elgar's Second Symphony and some shorter works. Jeremy Dibble (who reviewed the companion recording of the First Symphony two years ago) wrote that "I am even more impressed by the Russian's reading of the Second Symphony, which has a clarity of sound to match the luxuriance of Elgar's orchestration. Indeed, the RLPO, on great form, provide a sumptuous array of textures with an ensemble that is crisp and incisive. It is so good to hear every note of the athletic brass counterpoint in the horns and trumpets and the lithe filigree of Elgar's careful doublings between wind and strings... Petrenko is, for the most part, spot-on with his tempos".

Since the start of the 2013/2014 season, Petrenko has been Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic (one of those ensembles that seems to launch meteoric careers – just look at Mariss Jansons, with whom Petrenko studied). They've already set down an impressive little discography and this last year saw a version of Prokofiev's complete Romeo and Juliet ballet. While not totally sold on Petrenko's approach, David Gutman noted (12/16) that "In place of Soviet-style weight, Petrenko wields a new broom... Sections within numbers are refreshed unpredictably, sometimes slowed, more often swift, voicings tweaked to expose long-buried lines or surprising points of colour". And one shouldn't forget his charismatic work with the European Union Youth Orchestra, whose Chief Conductor he also is. His ability to connect with young musicians is impresive and the results speak for themselves.

Gramophone's Artist of the Year is voted for by the public – readers of Gramophone and visitors to our various social media outlets. Vasily Petrenko is making waves, and we're happy to endorse this impressive lead, from over 8000 votes cast, for an artist who has clearly made the step up to a new level of musicianship and has the ability to take audiences with him on his musical journey.

Source: James Jolly (gramophone.co.uk)














Label of the Year

Signum Classics

For an avid record collector, opening the morning's post at Gramophone remains one of life's great joys; and opening the post when a package arrives from Signum induces particular pleasure since it unleashes the spirit of serendipity. In an age awash with information, the simple act of opening a parcel without knowing quite what's inside is an unusual surprise. What you can always be sure of with Signum's monthly releases is that they will invariably be splendidly recorded and never predictable. And that recipe has set the company in good stead for the first two decades of its existence.

It's always good to mark significant anniversaries in the life of a record company, but when that anniversary is supported by a stream of first-rate recordings, recognition is less dutiful and rather more the result of inspiration. The 2016-2017 vintage has seen some truly superb releases and many Editor's Choices – Haydn's The Seasons conducted by Paul McCreesh, a terrific recording of chamber and vocal works by Jonathan Dove, Sophie Bevan and Ian Page's The Mozartists in scenas and concert arias, further instalments in Malcolm Martineau's Fauré song series, JS Bach organ works from David Goode, Peter Donohoe's Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, Nielsen's Flute and Clarinet Concertos with the Philharmonia conducted by Paavo Järvi, choral works from St John's College, Cambridge, and Wells Cathedral Choir, Roy Harris and John Adams violin concertos from Tamsin Waley-Cohen... the list goes on.

It's been a long journey from the mid-1990s, when Floating Earth (Signum's sister company) would make recordings in an executive production capacity – which it financed, owned and licensed to both independents and majors – to today's position as one of the most productive companies (in quantity, quality and range) on the UK classical music scene. As Steve Long, Signum's MD, recalls, an approach from an artist to record nine discs of Tallis got things under way. "Having pressed the first three albums and been to [the industry trade fair] Midem to get distribution, the first discs went on sale in November 1997. We were quickly approached by other early music groups who wanted to be on this new early music label so rather than be a niche of a niche I decided to broaden the scope of the label to be a multi-artist but still early music label. We continued in that vein until about 2001, by which time we had over 40 albums released but copious requests from non-early-music groups to join the party." Soon artists like Tenebrae and The King's Singers had a new home.

"We have a number of different ways of making recordings happen", Long continues. "The most common is that an artist comes to us with an idea and we make it happen in that we take care of technical and production elements and they put in the musical and artistic elements. We always like the artists to be ‘invested’ in the recording and have the making of the recording the start of the journey, not the end, as far as they are concerned. We view each release as a co-production with the artists. We also like each artist to undertake a series of recordings rather than stand-alone projects so we can develop a following for them."

With over 500 recordings in the catalogue and 50 releases emerging each year, Signum is very much a part of our world – and, always mindful of the way its audience listens, ensures that it is visible on all available platforms and on formats from the traditional CD to the massively popular stream.

Source: James Jolly (gramophone.co.uk)




Lifetime Achievement

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

"Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding", sings the Marschallin in Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier – "Time is a strange thing". Time for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, one of the most admired Marschallins of our age, is not about looking back. It's for looking forwards. "I get bored talking about the past", she says, a line Hofmannsthal might easily have dropped into one of his librettos.

Dame Kiri may have stopped singing publicly ("No, I don't miss it"), but she certainly doesn't consider herself retired. She maintains a busy schedule overseeing her Foundation, an organisation to help future generations of singers. "Some of my students say to me, ‘How can I repay you for what you've done for me?’. I reply, ‘Just be successful!’". And if anyone has experienced success it is this possessor of one of the loveliest voices of modern times. That great connoisseur of the voice (and one of Gramophone's best-loved contributors) John Steane commented of Te Kanawa's "Dove sono" (Le nozze di Figaro) that "the legato is perfect, the style aristocratic, the tone at its loveliest", and drew comparisons with Meta Seinemeyer (and from JBS that was high praise indeed).

It's exactly 25 years since Gramophone bestowed its Artist of the Year Award on Dame Kiri. That year, 1992, had been an extraordinary one for her when it came to recordings: we'd had Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier from EMI, conducted by Haitink, a second recording of the Four Last Songs from Decca, conducted by Solti, Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus from Philips, conducted by André Previn, as well as an album of songs by Michel Legrand (to add to a sizeable lighter catalogue that included Gershwin, Bernstein, Kern and Rodgers and Hammerstein).

As we celebrate Kiri Te Kanawa's career with the Lifetime Achievement Award, we must be thankful that she lived through one of the richest periods for recordings and had the fortune to record for companies with great operatic heritages: Decca, EMI, Philips and CBS/Sony Classical. She enjoyed recording because, she says, "I liked the idea of getting things down while my voice was still in good shape. I always felt that while it was still there and still with a sweet quality to it, the more we could capture the better. Getting it perfect wasn't my idea; having long takes was. It had to be a performance; not spliced together". And she got the chance to record all her major roles (sometimes more than once: especially with the increased interest in DVD).

"I always said as I went along, throughout my career, that I never got it perfect", she revealed. "I never got it totally as I wanted it. I suppose that was quite an achievement, never getting it to the point of perfection. I never did. But I got as close as I could. Sometimes your colleagues were good, sometimes not so good. Sometimes the conducting wasn't so good. I always had a sort of octopus view of things, tentacles everywhere, to see if it was going right or wrong. I suppose the Met went very right on a lot of occasions. But when you've got 4000 people in the audience and they have 4000 different ideas, you don't know if you're singing to a friendly group or an unfriendly group, so you have to hope!"

Dame Kiri's voice might have been made for the music of Mozart and Strauss, and her recordings of operas (and choral works and songs) by those two composers remain particularly cherishable: her Capriccio Countess was a glorious characterisation, as was her Arabella; and in Mozart we have her Pamina, Countess Almaviva, Donna Elvira (particularly fine both under Sir Colin Davis and in the classic Joseph Losey film with Ruggiero Raimondi as Giovanni) and Fiordiligi, not to mention a glorious C minor Mass and some of the concert arias.

Dame Kiri has achieved what few classical singers manage, to attract a huge international audience with everything from musical theatre to grand opera, and she approached it all with the same spirit. She worked hard, she played the game (chat shows, Morecambe and Wise, constant interviews) and she gave generously of her time. Now, she has the time to devote to her extensive garden, and live the life she missed during her career. As Frederica von Stade once said to her, "We're on a freight train, and from time to time we stop!". And, Dame Kiri continues, "that's what it was like. It was like buzzing through almost 50 years of not stopping. It was an incredible life and when I look back on it, I keep thinking, ‘How did I have any time for anything?’. It was just the music – getting ready and then doing it. I don't think I could do it today".

Source: James Jolly (gramophone.co.uk)














Special Achievement

Colin Matthews

Composer, arranger, administrator, mentor and cultural advocate: it can be difficult to decide where the emphasis lies when considering Colin Matthews (b. 1946), his contribution to British music across more than 40 years putting composers, musicians and listeners alike in his debt.

Matthews's own music is notable for its diversity of content. Two of his earliest acknowledged works, the Fourth and Fifth Sonatas for Orchestra, meet the respective challenge of American minimalism and Mahlerian chromaticism head-on, their concern for evolving and integrating large-scale expressive contrast pursued in such impressive later pieces as Cortège, Memorial, Reflected Images and Traces Remain. A productive relationship with the classical heritage is no less evident in his concertos for violin, cello and horn, along with a cycle of string quartets (five to date) spanning the greater part of his output. Vocal works include the dramatic cantata The Great Journey, orchestral song-cycle Continuum and No Man's Land, an arresting fusion of cantata and cabaret commemorating the First World War in provocative yet affecting terms.

This latter piece emerged out of Matthews's decade as Associate Composer with the Hallé – most significant of several such posts that have also included the Philharmonia and London Symphony orchestras, and that also gave rise to acclaimed orchestrations of the 24 Préludes for piano by Debussy. These transcriptions and arrangements are no less central to his work: back in the early 1960s he orchestrated several Mahler songs in collaboration with his older brother David (himself a distinguished composer), and he has since arranged song-cycles by Debussy, Holst and Britten. Matthews worked as amanuensis to Britten during his last years, and those editorial activities have continued with realisations of several early or unfinished pieces, in the process making new orchestral and chamber works available for performance.

Mention should also be made of his involvement (alongside David) with Deryck Cooke on the latter's performing edition of Mahler's Tenth Symphony, which has now received more than a dozen recordings and established itself as an integral part of the orchestral repertoire.

Matthews has long been active as administrator of the Holst Foundation. He is also chairman of the Britten Estate, as well as a trustee and Music Director of the Britten-Pears Foundation.

He served as a council member of the Aldeburgh Foundation for 11 years and has retained close links with the Aldeburgh Festival and the Britten-Pears School, not least as co-director (with Oliver Knussen) of the Contemporary Composition and Performance Course. He was a member of the council of the Society for the Promotion of New Music for over two decades, and director of the Performing Rights Society for three years. Since 1985 he has been a member of the music panel of the Radcliffe Trust and, since 2005, he has served as a council member of the Royal Philharmonic Society and Composition Director of the LSO's Panufnik Scheme.

Matthews has often worked as a recording producer, not the least significant being Górecki's Third Symphony with the London Sinfonietta, which topped classical charts on both sides of the Atlantic and has sold more than one million copies during the 25 years since it was issued.

It is as founder and executive producer of NMC Records that Matthews has made arguably his greatest contribution to the UK contemporary scene, and which has secured him this Special Achievement Award. From its modest beginnings in 1989 (the actual title is an acronym for New Music Cassettes), the label has built up a catalogue that currently amounts to 236 titles and which takes in a broad spectrum of British post-war music from senior composers such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Hugh Wood to rising stars such as Mark Simpson and Kate Whitley. Notable "firsts" have included Anthony Payne's realisation of the sketches for Elgar's Third Symphony, an Archive series which comprises reissues of long-unavailable recordings of British music, an Ancora series featuring reissues from other labels and a Debut series that focuses on composers from the younger generation. The NMC label has also been involved with download and online formats with such projects as New Music 20x12, for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and New Music Biennial. Nine of its releases have won the Contemporary category of the Gramophone Awards over the past quarter-century.

Colin Matthews received an honorary doctorate from Nottingham University in 1998, was given the Royal Philharmonic Society/Performing Rights Society Leslie Boosey Award in 2005 and made an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music. It is fitting he is being recognised with a Special Achievement Award at this year's Gramophone Awards.

Source: Richard Whitehouse (gramophone.co.uk)














Young Artist of the Year

Beatrice Rana

Young musicians usually impress in one of two different ways. One is to dazzle with the exuberance of youth, the sheer joy of their own talent and personality. It's a hard thing to resist, but one would be wise to wonder if it will still be serving them so well a decade or so down the line. The other is to show technique, yes, but also the poise and wisdom often lazily assumed to be beyond the attainment of youth, but which, if you've got it, will surely never go away. A few minutes with the playing of Beatrice Rana leaves you in no doubt which category she is in.

At 24, she has a refreshingly short competition history, though it includes first prize in the 2011 Montreal and Silver Medal at the 2013 Van Cliburn. Her days with such things are presumably over now, however, thanks to a contract from Warner Classics that has already yielded the Tchaikovsky First and Prokofiev Second Concertos (the Prokofiev "shapely, subtle, nuanced, musical in every detail", according to our own Patrick Rucker) and, as a first solo disc, an exquisitely drawn Bach Goldberg Variations that scored highly in this year's Instrumental category, only a year after Igor Levit's winning recording of it seemed to have given us enough to think about for the time being.

Born to pianist parents, she herself started on the instrument at the age of three, so that, as she claims, "playing the piano was among the most natural things I could do". Watch her play now – a luxury I had for a whole day while producing one of her BBC New Generation Artist studio sessions for Radio 3 – and it is evident that this deep grounding lends her a calm stillness that betokens perfectly relaxed technique and allows her to bring out the innate intelligence of her musical personality. Read Harriet Smith's review of the Goldbergs (4/17) and you will learn of a mouth-watering succession of original and beautifully realised ideas. Better still, listen to the recording itself to encounter a profound musician who also happens to be a pianist through and through.

Indeed, everything about Beatrice Rana speaks of maturity, from the playing itself to her modest reflections on it, and from her thoughtful approach to the music (see her Goldberg booklet note for that) to an attitude towards her career that essentially says "not too much at once". We must be patient, then; it would surely be both impolite and impolitic to hurry her. There will be plenty more to savour in years to come.

Source: Lindsay Kemp (gramophone.co.uk)











See also

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2017 – Part I. Disc Awards

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony


Friday, October 20, 2017

Loren Loiacono: Smothered by Sky | Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor | Hector Berlioz: Harold in Italy – Wei Yu, Eric Nowlin, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin – Saturday, October 21, 2017, 08:00 PM EDT (UTC-4) / Sunday, October 22, 2017, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3) – Live on Livestream

Eric Nowlin
















Paganini dismissed early sketches of Hector Berlioz's Harold in Italy as unsuitable for the celebrated virtuoso. After hearing the final work years later, he pulled the composer on stage and knelt before him in front of a cheering audience. On a program with your DSO Principal musicians as featured soloists, Eric Nowlin performs the music depicting the melancholy traveler Harold, and Wei Yu returns as a soloist for Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto.

Saturday, October 21
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 08:00 PM

Sunday, October 22
London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome: 02:00 AM
Moscow, Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 03:00 AM
Beijing: 08:00 AM
Tokyo: 09:00 AM

Find in my time zone

Live on Livestream



Loren Loiacono (b. 1989)

♪ Smothered by Sky (2017) (World premiere)


Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

♪ Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85 (1919)

i. Adagio – Moderato
ii. Lento – Allegro molto
iii.. Adagio
iv. Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio

Wei Yu, cello


Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

♪ Harold en Italie / Harold in Italy, H.68 / Op.16 (1834)

i. Harold aux montagnes, Scènes de mélancolie, de bonheur et de joie
ii. Marche de pèlerins chantant la prière du soir
iii. Sérénade d'un montagnard des Abruzzes à sa maîtresse
iv. Orgie de brigands. Souvenirs des scènes précédentes

Eric Nowlin, viola


Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin

(HD 720p)

Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Saturday, October 21, 2017, 08:00 PM EDT (UTC-4) / Sunday, October 22, 2017, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3)

Live on Livestream


Eric Nowlin (Principal Viola, Julie and Ed Levy, Jr. Chair, DSO member since 2016)

Eric Nowlin began his time with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as Principal Violist with the 2016-2017 season. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Eric has been described by the Springfield (MO) News-Leader as "having a full, warm tone, expressive phrasing, and effortless technical command" and by the Santa Cruz Sentinel as "displaying the remarkable capabilities of the viola, with a rich tone and sensitive interpretive skills".

Past accomplishments include second prize in the 2006 Walter W. Naumburg competition; first prize in the 2003 Irving Klein International String Competition; first prize in the 2002 Hellam Young Artists Competition; grand prize in the 2001 Naftzger Young Artists Competition; and winner of the 2001 Juilliard Viola Concerto Competition.

Eric previously served as Associate Principal Viola in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the New Orford String Quartet. Hailed by CBC as "Canada's top string quartet", the New Orford String Quartet has won several Opus awards, and was nominated for a Juno award in 2012. The quartet has recorded for Bridge records, Naxos Canada, and can be seen in a series of videos produced by CBC playing quartets by Beethoven, Brahms, and Haydn. The New Orford Quartet has recently had successful debuts in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, and Dallas, and performs throughout Canada and the United States on a yearly basis.

Eric's performances have included solo engagements with the Juilliard Orchestra, Springfield Symphony in Missouri, Santa Cruz Symphony, Peninsula Symphony, and the Kumamoto Symphony in Japan, as well as recitals in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and Mexico. He has been featured as soloist or chamber musician on radio on NPR, CBC, WQXR in New York, WGBH in Boston, WFMT in Chicago, and on television programs in Wisconsin and California. He has participated in festivals such as the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont and the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia. Previous chamber music appearances include performances with the Jupiter Chamber Players in New York City, plus tours with Musicians from Marlboro and Musicians from Ravinia's Steans Institute.

Eric has served as a guest principal with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland's Citymusic, and New York City's Metropolis Ensemble; and played as an extra with the New York Philharmonic from 2005-2008.

In addition to solo, chamber music, and orchestral performances, Eric enjoys teaching at a variety of institutions. He is an Assistant Professor of Viola at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, and has taught at the Phil and Eli Taylor Academy at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He spends time during the summer months teaching at the Orford Arts Centre in Quebec, as well as several other festivals in Canada.

Eric was chosen as the recipient of a Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation Grant in 2004 – an award intended for the advancement of young artist's performance careers. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Juilliard School, as a scholarship student of Samuel Rhodes.

Eric plays on a Neapolitan viola from 1910 made by Giovanni Pistucci.

Source: dso.org

















Wei Yu (Principal Cello, James C. Gordon Chair, DSO member since 2015)

Wei Yu was recently appointed Principal Cello, the James C. Gordon Chair, of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He made his subscription debut performing Dvorak's Cello Concerto. Before joining the DSO, Wei was a member of the New York Philharmonic for seven seasons.

Wei was a prizewinner at the Hudson Valley Philharmonic String, Holland American Music Society Cello, Music Teacher National Association (MTNA National Collegiate Strings), Canada's National Music Festival, Calgary's Kiwanis Festival and China's National Cello competitions.

An avid chamber musician, Wei has been invited to the Marlboro and Ravinia music festivals, and has recently collaborated with musicians such as cellist David Soyer, pianists Richard Goode and Menahem Pressler, violinists Midori and Pinchas Zukerman, and members of the Guarneri and Juilliard Quartets. As a member of the New York Philharmonic Ensembles, he makes regular appearances at Merkin Concert Hall.

In the summers of 1998 through 2000, Wei participated in the Morningside Music Bridge program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. He subsequently enrolled in the University's Gifted Youth program under the tutelage of John Kadz and is currently on the faculty of the Morningside Music Bridge program. He has given cello master classes at universities and festivals in the United States, Canada and China.

Born in Shanghai, China, Wei began studying the cello at age 4 and made his concerto debut at age 11, performing Elgar's Cello Concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. He received his B.M. from North Park University in Chicago and M.M. from the Juilliard School. His principal teachers include Mei-Juan Liu, John Kadz, Hans Jørgen Jensen, and David Soyer. He performs on the 1778 "Ex-Soyer" Gagliano cello, on generous loan from the Marlboro Music Festival.

Source: dso.org


Leonard Slatkin
















Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85

Edward Elgar's Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, from the year 1919, is the last major work the composer penned (a Third Symphony remained in draft form at his death in 1934). While the instrumental forces remain basically equivalent to those used in the Violin Concerto, Elgar has amplified the tender, searching intimacy of that earlier work to such a degree that one might call the Cello Concerto not just introspective but searing and almost ascetic. It is an exceedingly complex but immediately touching work that makes a fitting epilogue to Elgar's lifetime in music.

The Concerto is poured into a four-movement mold, yet still takes only about half an hour to perform – far less than any of Elgar's other large instrumental works. This restraint is mirrored by remarkably transparent orchestration. The work begins with four bars of solo cello recitative that firmly outline the home key of E minor. The subsequent Moderato entrance of the orchestra offers little immediate support for that key, really winding down to the tonic only after six bars of restless 9/8 melody built on a single rhythmic cell. During the 12/8 middle section Elgar makes good use of the contrast between E minor and E major. A recapitulation of the opening is made, but soon enough the movement has dissolved into a handful of uncertain pizzicati.

Elgar brings back the opening recitative, much altered (and buoyantly beginning where the first movement's pizzicati left off), to begin the following Scherzo. After twice pleading with the orchestra to join its cause, the cello finally rouses the group into an eighth note driven perpetual motion (Allegro molto). Elgar paints a miniature portrait of his own very characteristic lyric style in the relatively brief E flat major second theme.

A wonderful melody in B flat major is sung by the soloist throughout the Adagio third movement. Here Elgar's indebtedness to Schumann, the slow movement of whose own cello concerto also employs this song without words approach, is clearly evident. The life span of this one melodic strand is a bare 60 bars, yet it conveys deeper passion than do five times that many bars of the composer's earlier music. The movement ends on the dominant, paving the way for an attacca opening of the Finale.

After initially falling in with the B flat major of the Adagio, the Finale makes an eight-bar move back to its rightful E minor tonal center. The main idea of the movement (marked, like so many of the composer's favorite thoughts, "nobilmente") is given out first by the soloist in half-recitative and then, after a rude tutti interruption and a brief pause, by the entire ensemble, Allegro non troppo. A second theme recalls both the G major tonality and the impish sentiment of the Scherzo movement. As the Finale draws near its finish, Elgar undertakes an extended and very moving reminiscence: first on the melody of the Adagio movement and then reaching back to the recitative that began the entire half-hour journey. Two terse chords re-energize the movement's fast-twitch muscle fiber, and 16 bars later the curtain comes down.

Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)



Hector Berlioz: Harold en Italie / Harold in Italy, H.68 / Op.16

Though the work was originally intended as a vehicle for the virtuoso violinist Nicolo Paganini to exhibit his considerable skill on the viola, Berlioz's Harold in Italy (1834) eventually became a four-movement symphony which Paganini, who wanted to be "playing all the time", eventually declined to perform. Somewhat akin to the Symphonie fantastique (1830) in its quasi-autobiographical cast and employment of a unifying idée fixe, Harold finds Berlioz imagining himself in the role of Byron's Harold for the purpose of recounting his own experiences in Italy.

The first movement, entitled "Harold in the Mountains", outlines a progression from melancholy into happiness and ultimately, into joy. The sobering fugato which opens the movement soon gives way to an uncertain melody in the woodwinds, which blossoms until the viola presents it in full as Harold's theme, the idée fixe. The movement continues its ascent into joy with an effervescent, unrelenting allegro which eases up only to allow the viola to restate the idée fixe, now fitted into another fugato, before the accelerating momentum brings the movement to an end.

Like Mendelssohn, Berlioz made the second movement of his "Italian" symphony a "Pilgrim's March". Essentially restricted to a strophic march structure, the movement is notable for its daring modulations, each marked by the tolling of two bells. The viola enters again in the middle section, lyrically presenting the idée fixe in the periphery of the passing march before taking on an accompanying role as the procession moves off into the distance.

The third movement, "Serenade of an Abruzzi Mountaineer", begins with an accurate replication of Italian bagpipes, or piferari. The rustic affect is made complete with the introduction of the serenade's main melody by the English horn. The viola restates the melody in conjunction with the idée fixe, and the movement develops as Berlioz expounds upon the counterpoint between the two melodies. A somewhat resigned coda, comprising all three elements, ends the movement on a misleadingly peaceful tone.

"The Orgy of Brigands", as the finale is titled, opens with the viola revisiting several thematic ideas from prior movements before it is unceremoniously interrupted by the brash, rhythmic power of the orgy itself. Following this brass-fueled, slightly demented fury, the viola briefly returns with the "Pilgrim's March" and a final statement of Harold's theme as the composer's nostalgic reminiscence comes to a close.

Source: Graham Olson (allmusic.com)












See also

Live on Livestream: All Past Events

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2017 – Part I. Disc Awards













At a glittering and star-studded ceremony in central London, the 2017 Gramophone Classical Music Awards – this year presented in association with the Pan-Armenian Symphony Orchestra, Qobuz, Naim Audio and the BPI – unveiled the special awards and presented the 12 recording category Awards that were revealed a fortnight ago.

Isabelle Faust's Harmonia Mundi recording of the Mozart violin concertos with Il Giardino Armonico directed by Giovanni Antonini was named Gramophone's Recording of the Year (sponsored by Qobuz). Isabelle Faust was in São Paulo but sent a video message of thanks.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Presto Classical) for her glorious career as one of the best-loved sopranos of our time. The actor and singer Julian Ovenden made the presentation.

The conductor Vasily Petrenko received the Artist of the Year Award, the result of a public vote by over 8000 Gramophone readers and visitors to Gramophone's website.

The Young Artist of the Year Award, supported by Help Musicians UK, went to the Italian pianist Beatrice Rana whose Warner Classics recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations made it to the final round of the awards this year.

Label of the Year (sponsored by Classical:Next) went to Signum Classics and its MD Steve Long received for award for a consistently imaginative approach to A&R.

The composer, producer and founder of NMC, Colin Matthews, received a Special Achievement Award from Sir Mark Elder for his services to contemporary British music and Classic FM received a Special Anniversary Award, marking the 40th anniversary of the Awards, for the station's championing of classical music.

Other artists receiving their Awards – which were presented by Gramophone's James Jolly and the violinist Jennifer Pike – included the pianist Murray Perahia (Instrumental), singers Iestyn Davies (Baroque Vocal sponsored by Mrs Joan Jones) and Carolyn Sampson (Choral, sponsored by IDAGIO), the violinist and director of La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler (Baroque Instrumental), composer and conductor George Benjamin (Contemporary, sponsored by Naim Audio), Phantasm (Early Music), the Silesian Quartet (Chamber, sponsored by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute), the tenor Mauro Peter (Opera).Video acceptances came from Giovanni Antonini (Orchestral, sponsored by the European Foundation for Support of Culture, and Concerto), Joyce DiDonato (Recital, sponsored by Primephonic) and Matthias Goerne (Solo Vocal).

Live music came from the Pan-Armenian Symphony and their founder and conductor Sergey Smbatyan, The Tallis Scholars and Peter Philips (recipients of the 1987 Recording of the Year who returned to mark the Awards' anniversary), Beatrice Rana, Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies with the pianist Joseph Middleton and last year's Young Artist of the Year, Benjamin Appl, who joined the orchestra for Carl Millöcker's heart-stopping operetta aria "Dunkelrote Rosen" from Gasparone.

The awards were streamed live on the Gramophone website, medici.tv and via Classic FM's Facebook page.

Source: gramophone.co.uk, September 13, 2017


Part I. Disc Awards














Baroque Instrumental

The Italian Job

Adrian Chandler, violin / La Serenissima

Simon Fox-Gál, producer & engineer

(Avie)














Baroque Vocal

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantatas BWV 54, 82 & 170

Iestyn Davies, countertenor / Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen, conductor

Tim Oldham, producer / David Hinitt, engineer

(Hyperion)














Chamber

Grażyna Bacewicz: Complete String Quartets

Silesian Quartet

Adam Mickiewicz, Institute producer / Beata Jankowska-Burzyńska, engineer

(Chandos)














Choral

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mass in C minor, K.427 / Exsultate, Jubilate, K.165

Carolyn Sampson, soprano / Olivia Vermeulen, mezzo-soprano / Makoto Sakurada, tenor / Christian Immler, baritone / Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki, conductor

Hans Kipfer, producer / Jens Braun, engineer

(BIS)




Concerto & Recording of the Year 2017

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos / Adagio, K.261 / Rondos, K.269 & K.373

Isabelle Faust, violin / Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini, conductor

Martin Sauer, producer / Tobias Lehmann, Wolfgang Schiefermair, engineers

(Harmonia Mundi)














Contemporary

György Ligeti: Lontano / Tristan Murail: Le désenchantement du monde / George Benjamin: Palimpsests

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano / Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks / George Benjamin, conductor

Wolfgang Schreiner, producer / Peter Urban, engineer

(Neos)














Early Music

John Dowland: Lachrimae or Seven Tears

Elizabeth Kenny, lute / Phantasm

Philip Hobbs, producer & engineer

(Linn)














Instrumental

Johann Sebastian Bach: Six French Suites, BWV 812-817

Murray Perahia, piano

Andreas Neubronner, producer / Martin Nagorni, engineer

(Deutsche Grammophon)














Opera

Alban Berg: Wozzeck

Christian Gerhaher, baritone / Brandon Jovanovich, tenor / Mauro Peter, tenor / Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, tenor / Lars Woldt, bass / Pavel Daniluk, bass / Cheyne Davidson, baritone / Gun-Brit Barkmin, soprano / Irène Friedli, mezzo-soprano / Martin Zysset, actor

Chor der Oper Zürich / Kinderchor / Philharmonia Zürich / Fabio Luisi, conductor

Andreas Homoki, stage director / Michael Beyer, video director / Sebastian Braun, audio producer / Toine Mertens, sound engineer

Statistenverein am Opernhaus Zürich

(Accentus)














Orchestral

Haydn 2032 – No 4, Il distratto

Riccardo Novaro, baritone / Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini

Friedemann Engelbrecht, producer / Tobias Lehmann, engineer

(Alpha)














Recital

In War & Peace

Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano / Il Pomo d'Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev, harpsichord & direction

Daniel Zalay, producer / Hugues Deschaux, engineer

(Erato)














Solo Vocal

Johannes Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

Matthias Goerne, baritone / Christoph Eschenbach, piano

Martin Sauer, producer / René Möller, engineer

(Harmonia Mundi)











See also

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2017 – Part II. Special Awards 2017

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Franz Schubert: Winterreise – Thomas Oliemans, Malcolm Martineau (HD 1080p)














The Dutch baritone Thomas Oliemans and τhe Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau bring a masterly command of vocal nuance and style to Franz Schubert's late masterpiece, a bleak, powerfully cathartic song cycle written in the last months of the composer's life. A young man, rejected by his beloved, wanders into the darkness of a wintry countryside, wracked by searing emotions – grief, anger, loneliness and alienation, touched with brief moments of reconciliation. Recorded live at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, on July 15, 2013.



Το «Χειμωνιάτικο ταξίδι» ("Winterreise") υπήρξε ο δεύτερος και τελευταίος κύκλος τραγουδιών του Φραντς Σούμπερτ σε ποίηση Βίλχελμ Μίλερ (Wilhelm Müller, 1794-1827). Η σύνθεση των είκοσι τεσσάρων τραγουδιών του κύκλου έλαβε χώρα σε δύο φάσεις, κατά τον Φεβρουάριο και τον Οκτώβριο του 1827, όπως εξάλλου και η δημοσίευσή τους, σε δύο δωδεκάδες, τον Ιανουάριο και τον Δεκέμβριο του 1828 (έναν περίπου μήνα μετά τον πρόωρο θάνατο του δημιουργού). Το «Χειμωνιάτικο ταξίδι» περιλαμβάνει ορισμένα από τα δημοφιλέστερα και περισσότερο αριστουργηματικά τραγούδια του Σούμπερτ, ενώ ως σύνολο αποτελεί ανυπέρβλητο έργο αναφοράς στο είδος του έντεχνου τραγουδιού. Στο τρίτο τραγούδι του κύκλου, "Gefrorne Tränen" («Παγωμένα δάκρυα»), ο πιανιστικός πρόλογος και επίλογος σκιαγραφεί τις σταγόνες των δακρύων στο παγωμένο σκηνικό και παράλληλα χρησιμεύει ως εύπλαστο υπόβαθρο για την ήπια μελοποίηση της πρώτης ποιητικής στροφής αλλά και την πολύ πιο φλογερή μελωδική μετουσίωση της τρίτης· αντιθέτως, στη μουσική αντιμετώπιση της δεύτερης στροφής του ποιήματος, το «πάγωμα των καυτών δακρύων» αντανακλάται τόσο στο σκοτείνιασμα της φωνητικής γραμμής, όσο και στη ρυθμική επιβράδυνση της εξίσου μουντής πιανιστικής της συνοδείας. — Ιωάννης Φούλιας

Τα τραγούδια (lieder) ήταν ένα είδος που ο Φραντς Σούμπερτ αγάπησε ιδιαίτερα, συνέθεσε περισσότερα από εξακόσια, και αποτελούν ένα μεγάλο μέρος της μουσικής του δημιουργίας και προσφοράς. Το 1823, σε μία περίοδο μεγάλης κατάπτωσης από τη σύφιλη που τον ταλαιπωρούσε, ανακάλυψε μία σειρά ποιημάτων του όχι πολύ γνωστού ποιητή Βίλχελμ Μίλερ. Η αμεσότητα αυτών των ποιημάτων, του προκάλεσε τόσο μεγάλη εντύπωση, ώστε διάλεξε είκοσι για να γράψει τον κύκλο «Η ωραία Μυλωνού». Τέσσερα χρόνια αργότερα ξαναγύρισε στα ποιήματα αυτά και συνέθεσε έναν άλλο κύκλο τραγουδιών, το «Χειμωνιάτικο Ταξίδι». Στον κύκλο αυτό η απελπισία που συναντάται στην «Ωραία Μυλωνού» φτάνει στα άκρα. Ο Σούμπερτ άλλαξε τη σειρά των ποιημάτων του Μίλερ, έτσι ώστε να εξαφανίσει και τις λιγοστές λάμψεις φωτός και ελπίδας που έδινε ο ποιητής. Δεν υπάρχει αληθινή αφήγηση. Ο ακροατής ακολουθεί τον πρωταγωνιστή, απογοητευμένο από τον έρωτα και βαριεστημένο από τα εγκόσμια, στις περιπλανήσεις του στο μοναχικό και αφιλόξενο χειμωνιάτικο τοπίο. Ο ρόλος του πιάνου δεν είναι πλέον συνοδευτικός, χρησιμοποιείται για να ερμηνεύσει τους στίχους, να αποδώσει συναισθήματα και καταστάσεις. Ο Σούμπερτ είπε κάποτε ότι σύμφωνα με αυτόν δεν υπάρχει αληθινά χαρούμενη μουσική. Ποτέ όμως πριν δεν είχε επιχειρήσει να γράψει μία τέτοιας έκτασης σύνθεση, πάνω σε ένα θέμα οδύνης, όπως το "Winterreise". —  Κώστας Τηλιακός

Ο Φραντς Σούμπερτ συνέθεσε τα είκοσι τέσσερα τραγούδια του κορυφαίου φωνητικού έργου του την προτελευταία χρονιά της ζωής του, αξιοποιώντας τον ρομαντικό ποιητικό λόγο του Γερμανού ποιητή και ενθουσιώδη φιλέλληνα Βίλχελμ Μίλερ, ο οποίος, όπως ο Σούμπερτ, πέθανε κι αυτός τόσο νέος! Το αέναο ταξίδι – ο αιώνιος οδοιπόρος – και ο ανεκπλήρωτος έρωτας, δύο βάσανα γύρω από τα οποία χτίστηκε ο ποιητικός λόγος του Μίλερ, βρήκαν στη μουσική του Σούμπερτ τον ιδανικό σύντροφο και μαζί πήραν το δρόμο προς την αθανασία. Τέτοιο συνταίριασμα λόγου και μουσικής πολύ σπάνια συναντιέται. — Γιώργος Β. Μονεμβασίτης

Στο «Χειμωνιάτικο ταξίδι», πάλι ένας πληγωμένος από έρωτα νέος, τριγυρνά σε ένα κατάλευκο τοπίο, όπου παγώνουν ακόμα και τα δάκρυά του, κοιμάται σε κοιμητήρια (να που ο ευφημισμός ταιριάζει γάντι), και συνομιλεί με κοράκια. Η μουσική του Σούμπερτ δένει απόλυτα με τους αρκετά συμβατικούς στίχους του Γερμανού ποιητή και γνωστού φιλέλληνα Βίλχελμ Μίλερ. Οι σπαρακτικές αυτές συνθέσεις του Σούμπερτ πετυχαίνουν την τέλεια επιτομή ανάμεσα στο συναισθηματικό και περιγραφικό στοιχείο της σχέσης της μουσικής με τη φύση. — Τάκης Ατσιδάκος

Το σπαρακτικό αριστούργημα του γερμανικού Ρομαντισμού "Winterreise" του Φραντς Σούμπερτ, ερμηνεύουν ο ταλαντούχος Ολλανδός βαρύτονος Thomas Oliemans, συνοδευόμενος στο πιάνο από τον βραβευμένο Σκοτσέζο ακομπανιατέρ Malcolm Martineau. Η συναυλία δόθηκε στο Μέγαρο Μουσικής του Άμστερνταμ, στις 15 Ιουλίου 2013.



Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

♪ Winterreise, D.911 (1827)

1. Fremd bin ich eingezogen
2. Der Wind spielt mit der Wetterfahne
3. Gefrorne Tropfen fallen von meinen Wangen ab
4. Ich such im Schnee vergebens nach ihrer Tritte Spur
5. Am Brunnen vor dem Tore da steht ein Lindenbaum
6. Manche Trän aus meinen Augen
7. Der du so lustig rauschtest, du heller wilder Fluß
8. Es brennt mir unter beiden Sohlen
9. In die tiefsten Felsengründe lockte mich ein Irrlicht hin
10. Nun merk ich erst, wie müd ich bin, da ich zur Ruh mich lege
11. Ich träumte von bunten Blumen
12. Wie eine trübe Wolke durch heitre Lüfte geht
13. Von der Straße her ein Posthorn klingt
14. Der Reif hat einen weißen Schein
15. Eine Krähe war mit mir aus der Stadt gezogen
16. Hie und da ist an den Bäumen
17. Es bellen die Hunde, es rasseln die Ketten
18. Wie hat der Sturm zerrissen des Himmels graues Kleid
19. Ein Licht tanzt freundlich vor mir her
20. Was vermeid ich denn die Wege
21. Auf einen Totenacker hat mich mein Weg gebracht
22. Fliegt der Schnee mir ins Gesicht
23. Drei Sonnen sah ich am Himmel stehn
24. Drüben hinterm Dorfe steht ein Leiermann

Thomas Oliemans, baritone

Malcolm Martineau, piano

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 
July 15, 2013


(HD 1080p)



Franz Schubert,
portrait by Anton Depauly, 1828
When Franz Schubert shared the Winterreise songs with members of his circle in 1828, they initially received a mixed reception. Josef von Spaun, the composer's friend since schooldays, recalled that "We were quite dumbfounded by (their) gloomy mood", though his estimation changed over time: "More beautiful German songs probably do not exist".

Individual songs from the cycle received sporadic public performance, the first having taken place in Vienna, but in general, the composer and his music experienced "decades of neglect and oblivion (after) his death".

"Winterreise" was composed in two parts with twelve songs each, mostly in minor keys. At his deathbed in November 1828, Schubert's last occupation was the correction of the proofs of Part II of "Winterreise", which was published posthumously.

It was only with the advent of recordings that an integral Winterreise could reach a mass audience, which over time affirmed its primacy. In 1928, Viennese baritone Hans Duhan recorded the complete cycle for the first time. One hundred-and-one years after its private first performance, Winterreise and its public could begin to fully discover one another.

Unlike "Die schöne Müllerin", which pursues a narrative, even dramatic plot, "Winterreise" is introverted and interior. There are no great shifts in either mood, external circumstances or psychological state.

Through a series of recurrent images, the poet weaves a complex tapestry of images from his tragic feelings of desperation. Among these images are those of ice, snow, death, tears, anguish and journeying. Much of the organic unity of the cycle is achieved by the poet's employment of these recurrent images.

Their cumulation builds a powerful and multi-layered impression of the protagonist's emotional and psychological state. Although the cycle tells of the pains of unrequited love, Schubert's protagonist is not the victim of an individual set of circumstances; he is, rather, a romantic hero set against fate itself. In Die Wetterfahne, for instance, the poet focuses upon the weather-vane as an image of the disregard shown by the external forces upon the lover's inner torment: "The wind plays with the weather-vane on my fair love's house. In my folly I thought it mocked the wretched fugitive". And again, "What do they care about my suffering?".

It is no exaggeration to say that Gute Nacht, the opening song, is emblematic of the entire cycle. The opening phrase, "A stranger I came, a stranger I depart", indeed even the first word "Fremd" (strange, foreign), set at the apex of the opening motif, prepares us for the extraordinary journey which is to follow. So many of the musical and poetic ideas which unfold throughout the journey are first exposed in this song. The opening motif is a descending one and, in fact, the majority of the melodies in the entire cycle are descending. The semitone, which is the very first interval of the vocal part, becomes associated later in the cycle with the evocation of death, and the piano echoes the semitone in a dotted rhythm, which is later associated with the heartbeat. Similar rhythmic figures are connected throughout the cycle with grief, fate, pain and the heart.

If the memoirs of Josef von Spaun (1788-1865) are to be trusted, Schubert corrected the proofs of the second part of "Winterreise" on his deathbed. Spaun left us with the following record of the first performance of Die Winterreise:

Schubert has seemed for some time moody and run down. To my questioning he replied, "You will soon understand". One day he said, "Come to Schober's and I will sing over a bunch of ghastly songs to you. I shall be curious", he went on, "to hear what you think of them – they have taken more out of me than any other songs I have written".

He then sang to us the whole "Winterreise" through, with much emotion in his voice. The gloom of the songs quite nonplussed us, and Schober said there was one he cared for, Der Lindenbaum. All Schubert answered was, "I like them all more than any of the other songs, and the day will come when you will like them too". He was right; we were soon full of admiration for these mournful songs, which Vogl sang like a master.

Feelings of remorse and rejection are trumped by thoughts of death early in the cycle, in Der Lindenbaum, and again in Irrlicht, when the dejected lover flirts with feux follets, and these thoughts grow pervasive; four of the last five songs make it their subject.

Most telling is the final three-song sequence, which Schubert reordered from the Müller original. Mut, an exercise in empty and tragic bravado, is followed by the increasing intensity of the last two songs: Die Nebensonnen, a wrenching lament of loss, and Der Leiermann, the distillation of despair.

Source: franzpeterschubert.com



















































More photos


See also

Franz Schubert: Winterreise – Ian Bostridge, Julius Drake