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A way of collegiality from Kate Royal and Christine Rice on the Oxford Lieder Pageant – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Oxford Lieder Pageant 2022 [1] – Clara and Robert Schumann, Brahms, Weill: Kate Royal (soprano), Christine Rice (mezzo-soprano), Magnus Walker (tenor), Julius Drake, Eunji Han (pianists). Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 14.10.2022. (CR)

Clara Schumann – Das Veilchen; Geheimes Flüstern hier und dort, Op.23 No.3; Walzer; Die gute Nacht, die ich dir sage; Beim Abschied
Brahms – Zigeunerlieder; Die Schwestern, Op.61 No.1; Die Meere, Op.20 No.3; Phänomen, Op.61 No.3; Walpurgisnacht, Op.75 No.4
Robert Schumann – Herbstlied, Op.43 No.2; Erste Begegnung, Op.74 No.1; Sommerruh, WoO7; In der Nacht, Op.74 No.4
Weill – Berlin im Licht; Youkali; Nanna’s Lied; Buddy on the Night time Shift; Es regnet; Je ne t’aime pas; Alabama Track

On this 12 months, celebrating its twenty-first season, Oxford Lieder Pageant explores the theme of ‘friendship in music’. Though many of the songs introduced on this opening live performance handled love – not less than in a humorous or ironic method – they’re the type of items which will have been meant for, or are most successfully carried out inside, convivial gatherings. The truth that a lot of these within the principal a part of this recital require two singers enhanced that sense of collegiality.

On the centrepiece of this efficiency was the entire set of eight songs which Brahms organized for solo voice from his extra quite a few set of Zigeunerlieder. Christine Rice and Kate Royal shared out these songs between them, combining solely within the duet of the final one and fascinating in dialogue in a single different, besides, their origins as settings for vocal quartet nonetheless served as a reminder of the communal objective of Brahms’s uncharacteristically light-hearted cycle. Rice conjured one thing of the ‘gypsy’ ambiance along with her usually moody, woody tone – even sassy for ‘He, Zigeuner, greife in die Saiten ein!’ to open. If there might need been extra playfulness for ‘Wisst ihr, wann mein Kindchen’, wider vibrato for ‘Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn’ engagingly plumbed the depths of its wistful emotion.

Kate Royal sounded a contact brittle in her couple of solos in that cycle however was extra relaxed with the comedy or darkish humour of the separate Brahms settings ‘Die Schwestern’ and ‘Walpurgisnacht’, and within the radiant parallel traces with Rice of ‘Phänomen’. The vary of Weill songs (a few of them preparations from his musical dramas) additionally introduced out a duskier high quality from her, and a extra seamless flexibility as she shifted among the many jazzier colors and harmonies required, particularly in ‘Youkali’, the imaginative and prescient of a utopia which elicited an nearly choking remorse within the final traces because the singer recognises ‘However it’s a dream, it’s folly, there isn’t a Youkali!’. Rice shone with acceptable radiance and humour for ‘Berlin im licht’.

In between the Weill and Brahms got here 4 duets by the latter composer’s buddy and mentor, Robert Schumann, given extra strenuous, pressing readings than many of the different items within the recital. Julius Drake set the tone of tragic earnestness within the introduction for ‘In der Nacht’ on the piano, simply as he cogently set the scene for every music after which remained an equal associate within the musical storytelling with out stealing the limelight.

To preface the programme, two performers from the Pageant’s Rising Artists scheme gave a clutch of songs by Clara Schumann, submitting within the hyperlink of pleasant relations amongst Brahms and the Schumanns. Magnus Walker sang these warmly, with broad projection emphasising necessary phrases or climactic moments, if typically simply barely beneath the given tone. Eunji Han was a discreet, efficient accompanist, however might certainly have taken extra danger to be extra overtly expressive and make these performances extra spectacular nonetheless.

Curtis Rogers

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