So get to the Wigmore Hall on Friday for Lucy Crowe and Christopher Maltman, who sing a very well chosen programme devised by Graham Johnson, based around different themes in French opera and song. Some obscurities here, and some favourites, but the main thing is the way they've been chosen to stimulate thought. "Mélodies or Arias?" for example is one sub-theme, where songs by Dubois, Massenet, Fauré and Debussy extend basic song form. Graham Johnson is much more than a pianist. he's an institution, and icon whose presence we will miss terribly when he retires.
Also, do not miss Anna Prohaska on 16th January. She's doing a programme with period ensemble Arcangelo, called "The Enchanted Forest". She's singing extracts from Handel, Zelenka, Purcell and Vivaldi. Song not opera as such, but theatrical and probably quite magical, as we'd expect from this superb singer. On 11/1, Marlis Petersen sings another programme based around female archetypes in song : Suleika, Mignon, Gretchen, Stella, Klärchen and Helena. Not just the obvious composers like Schubert but Medtner, Braunfels, Eisler, Diepenbrook, Krenek and Wagner Gretchen am Spinnrade Similarly, Elizabeth Watts is singing a programme of Goethe heroines with Roger Vignoles on 28th. If heroines aren't your thing, there's always Mozart's Castrati on 22nd Jan. Sarah Fox, Renata Prokupic and Ian Page, conducting.
The Wigmore Hall is also doing a lot more early music than it did 20 years ago. Paul O'Dette brings a programme of John Dowland lute songs on 10/1. O'Dette is mixing well known tunes with carefully picked rarities. This promises to be interesting and unusual: a landmark in Dowland performance. Unmissable for early music enthusiasts and indeed for Benjamin Britten fans, since Britten was greatly influenced by Dowland. Indeed, Dowland's influence on modern British music is profound. Just think Harrison Birtwistle. Tomorrow, Thursday, Carolyn Sampson sings early Venetian love songs, accompnanied by Matthew Wadsworth on theorbo.
On Sunday, Julius Drake's series on the Hugo Wolf Songbooks continues wiuth Angelika Kirchschlager and Dietrich Henschel. They're doing some of the best known songs, but I'd recommend the next recital on 15/2 even more highly : Ian Bostridge and Sophie Daneman, a very well balanced pair of voices. The Nash Ensemble are absolutely unequalled by any other regular Wigmore Hall ensemble. On 12th January, they're doing two concerts of British music, combining chamber music and voice.: Warlock's The Curlew and Britten's Songs from the Chinese. The Britten Sinfonia are doing a programme which includes Richard Rodney Bennett and Gerald Barry.
"Songs to the Moon" is another interesting concert on 18th. The Myrthen Ensemble comprise several up and coming singers, fairly well known as individuals, but here they're singing songs and part songs together. Brahms and Schumann of course, but also Warlock, Maconchy, Saint-Saëns, Barber, and a clutch of delicious French songs by Fauré, Debussy etc.
And that's just ONE month, vocal related, and one venue! Photo : David Hawgood