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‘The Swedish Nightingale’ and ‘Letters from House’, my last go to to the Oxford Lieder Pageant


Alex Ho: Letters from Home; The Swedish Nightingale - Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann; Jia Huang, Satoshi Kubo, Camilla Tilling, Paul Rivinius; Oxford Lieder Festival

Alex Ho: Letters from House; The Swedish Nightingale – Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann; Jia Huang, Satoshi Kubo, Camilla Tilling, Paul Rivinius; Oxford Lieder Pageant
Reviewed 25 October 2022 (★★★★)

Alex Ho’s touching cycle a few Chinese language father’s relationship to his distant son, alongside Camilla Tilling’s partaking evocation of the live performance lifetime of Swedish soprano Jenny Lind

My second day on the Oxford Lieder Pageant (25 October 2022) ended with the night recital from soprano Camilla Tilling and pianist Paul Rivinius on the church of St John the Evangelist, Iffley Street. They offered their programme The Swedish Nightingale in regards to the soprano Jenny Lind and that includes songs and piano items by Mendelssohn, Chopin and Schumann. At first of the night, two of the competition’s rising artists, baritone Jia Huang and pianist Satoshi Kubo carried out Letters from House by Alex Ho, the competition’s new affiliate composer.

Alex Ho’s first fee from the competition is premiered in the present day (26 October 2022), however as a type of preview, Jia Huang and Satoshi Kubo carried out Ho’s 2020 cycle Letters from House setting poems by Theophilius Kwek. The 4 poems (largely in English however with some Chinese language phrases) depict the advanced relationship between father and son because the son leaves China to stay in Britain, the primary three being letters from father to son, getting progressively extra intense and anxious, the ultimate one being the son’s repeated makes an attempt to put in writing to his father. Ho’s language was largely tonal, combining advanced piano writing with extra straightforwardly lyric vocal writing, mixing in some Chinese language and parts of spoken textual content.

‘Have you ever been consuming’ moved from the lyrical to the moderately extra intensely dramatic, while ‘Bermondsey’ was one thing of a patter tune, given a vivid efficiency by each Huang and Kubo. ‘Are you there’ was moderately touching at first, and considerably stark with a melismatic vocal line over low piano notes, however the father turns into more and more distraught, and the tune ended with an intense climax.  Within the last tune, ‘Expensive Baba’, the son tries to articulate his response, hesitant, unaccompanied and excessive within the voice. Even when the piano did are available in, the music was spare. The outcome was a placing piece, giving a touching efficiency by Huang and Kubo. Singing from reminiscence Huang efficiently introduced out the non-public ingredient within the mini-drama.

Jenny Lind (1820-1887) was some of the extremely regarded singers of the nineteenth century, however she retired from the operatic stage at solely 29 and had a 30-year profession giving tune recitals. Camilla Tilling and Paul Rivinius carried out songs and piano items by Mendelssohn and Schumann, and a Chopin piano piece, interleaved with Tilling’s anecdotes about Jenny Lind which constructed an image of the singer’s shut relationship with Mendelssohn and with the Schumanns. In reality, Lind’s relationship with Mendelssohn was so shut, so intense that rumours nonetheless persist about it, and it’s recognized that lots of Mendelssohn’s letters to her had been destroyed. 

We started with Mendelssohn. Andres Maienlied ‘Hexenlied’ was mild, but vivid and Tilling actually offered the tune, against this Die Liebende schreibt was light and inside, the voice merely a thread, and Allnächtlich im Traume seh’ ich dich was distinctly skittish. Within the elegantly expressive Der Mond, Tilling’s voice was once more a thread. Subsequent got here a piano solo, Spinnerlied busy but mild and pleasant.

The query of why Lind was so well-liked got here up, with Tilling studying a few modern essential descriptions, and plainly there was nothing standard about her singing, it was its naturalness (in distinction to the extremely completed bel canto type) that impressed.

Mendelssohn’s Der Blumenstrauss was lyric and flowing, while Frühlingslied  overflowed with Romantic lyricism, ending in rapture. Maybe the perfect recognized of Mendelssohn’s songs, Auf Flügeln des Gesanges was elegant but understated, and this group ended with the lyric melancholy of Sukeika.

On Mendelssohn’s sudden dying, Lind drew power from her religion. She visited the ailing Chopin in Paris and Tilling learn an outline of the 2 of them spending a complete day on the piano. And we heard the elegant melancholy of Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor.

Lind’s relationship appears to have been with Clara as a lot as with Robert Schumann, and positively Lind and Clara Schumann would carry out collectively. Lind got here into their circle when she met Clara accidentally when Clara turned up unexpectedly on the Mendelssohn’s in 1846.

The Schumann songs started with a gaggle of Goethe settings from Lieder und Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister, mixing Mignon with the Harper. ‘Heiss’ mich nicht reden’ was fairly free, very dramatic and moderately darkish, while ‘Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt’ had a stunning freedom to it. In reality, it moderately jogged my memory of a Schumann piano piece with vocal obbligato, and Tilling introduced a effective sense of freedom and rubato to the vocal line. ‘So lasst mich scheinen’ had an analogous really feel, with Tilling performing with freedom and wonderful engagement, but delicate to the pairing with Rivinius. ‘Singet nicht in Trauertönen’ was lighter and elegantly accomplished, with the ultimate strains positively suggestive.

Schumann’s Novelette, Op. 21 No. 1 got here subsequent, a piano solo that was something however mild, regardless of the title. Evidently when visiting Robert and Clara Schumann, Lind sang quite a lot of Robert’s songs and Clara was positively ecstatic about her performances and reportedly Robert was too.  

Tilling introduced out the charming simplicity of ‘Marienwürmchen’ (from Lieder-Album für die Jugend), while Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint was lyrically fantastically and the tune is one which Lind sang with Clara Schumann’s accompaniment at a public recital in 1850. ‘Der Nussbaum’ from Myrthen was all flowing magnificence, ending with melancholy, while ‘Frühlingsnacht’ from Liederkreis Op. 39 was impulsively romantic and positively overflowing on the finish. We completed with the final tune that Lind sang, An den Sonnenschein, merely phrased and characterful.

This was a stunning night, and the best way Tilling wove the songs and narrative collectively was moderately particular, giving us a unique outlook on these songs. Tilling and Rivinius had a stunning approach of encapsulating every tune, charming and interesting, all the time completely different.

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