mezzo-soprano Yajie Zhang and pianist Hartmut Höll in Brahms and Mahler in Oxford

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Brahms: Songs Op. 59, Mahler: Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, 'Der Abschied' (Das Lied von der Erde); Yajie Zhang, Hartmut Höll; Oxford Lieder Festival

Brahms: Songs Op. 59, Mahler: Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, ‘Der Abschied’ (Das Lied von der Erde); Yajie Zhang, Hartmut Höll; Oxford Lieder Pageant
Reviewed 25 October 2022 (★★★★)

The Chinese language mezzo-soprano’s splendidly heat, wealthy voice brings a powerful sculptural high quality and an interior seriousness to songs by Brahms and Mahler

Yajie Zhang is a younger Chinese language mezzo-soprano who has been a member of the Younger Singers Programme at Bavarian State Opera and has simply joined the ensemble at Oper Leipzig. With pianist Hartmut Höll, she gave the lunchtime recital on the Oxford Lieder Pageant on Tuesday 25 October 2022 on the Holywell Music Room. Their programme consisted of a range from Brahms’ Songs Op. 59 (from 1873), Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen (from 1884-85) and Der Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.

With their topics of affection and nature, the 5 Brahms songs virtually prefigured the Mahler. Yajie Zhang has a darkish, targeted voice with a beautiful decrease register and a straightforward high. Each in method and magnificence, she appears fitted for the intense and the extreme. ‘Dämmrung senkte sich von oben’ was sober and intent, growing impulsive drama earlier than sinking into the deep darkish. ‘Auf dem See’ was stuffed with joyful anticipation but with a severe undertow. Regardless of the urgency of her efficiency, ‘Eine gute, gute Nacht’ was stuffed with sober drama. This grew to become stormy certainly in ‘Mein wundes Herz verlangt’. At first pressing, then gentler, the Brahms group ended with ‘Dein blaues Auge’, once more severe and intent.

Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, setting his personal poetry, takes these themes and twists them, an intense younger man enterprise a journey akin to Winterreise. Written within the wake of his personal sad love affair, Mahler wrote the songs with piano accompaniment and solely later orchestrated them.

‘Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht’ started with severe drama, the sculptural high quality of Zhang’s phasing complemented by Hartmut Höll’s vivid piano. The lighter second verse nonetheless had a sober side and issues acquired actually darkish within the third. This was one intense younger man. ‘Ging heut’ Morgen über’s Feld’ was vivid and robust, the enjoyment right here considerably muted. Zhang and Höll’s wasn’t a light-weight therapy of Mahler’s music, this was vibrant and intense, solely in the direction of the top getting lighter and extra inside. ‘Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer’ was vivid, darkish and impulsive. We ended on a be aware of haunting melancholy in ‘Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz’, the center verse quiet and intense with some magical piano enjoying from Höll. Zhang’s German was completely creditable, although you somewhat wanted the printed textual content to observe the phrases completely.

While Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (written 1908-09) is greatest identified in its orchestral model, Mahler did create a piano model, however not like Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen this piano model is an association of the unique orchestral model. We heard the ultimate quantity from the work ‘Der Abschied’ in Mahler’s piano model.

From the very opening phrase, Zhang’s account was extremely targeted, the wealthy rhetoric of her efficiency complemented by a extremely sculptural strategy to the phrasing. She made the only phrase really feel vital, pregnant with that means. At instances her sober, finely formed account could be surrounded by the storm of Höll’s piano. On the very finish, nevertheless, Zhang actually did let rip earlier than the ultimate, magical ‘Ewig’.

Regardless of enjoying Mahler’s piano model, Höll appeared impressed by the complete orchestral rating and his enjoying was stuffed with robust articulations, and extremely marked notes virtually to the purpose of over emphasis. At instances we gave the impression to be listening to 2 totally different performances, his demonstrative and vividly over-done, hers sculptural and at instances classical. And I did somewhat assume that Höll should have had a web page turner.

The viewers response was heat certainly, and have been handled to an encore in, I feel, Zhang’s native Chinese language.

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