Monday, 6 December 2010

Padmore Lachner and Kynoch Brahms

Monday's lunchtime concert at the Wigmore Hall features Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout. He's singing Schumann songs and Liederkreis op 24, but the big treat will be Franz Lachner Lieder. Lachner may not be major league like Schumann, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Loewe, all his contemporaries, but he's interesting nonetheless. Peter Schreier recorded an entire disc of the songs of Conradin Kreutzer. It's not bad, but Kreutzer who? As Schreier said at the time, "You appreciate the peaks better when you know the valleys".

Everyone's heard of Lachner, who was displaced at Munich by Richard Wagner. Lachner was prolific, and his choral and chamber music have enjoyed a vogue for some time. The classic recording of Lachner's songs was made by Christoph Prégardien and Andreas Staier many years ago, so it's good to hear new versions. Angelika Kirschschlager  sang some recently, also at the Wigmore Hall.  Please see my earlier piece on Lachner and his Sängerfahrt op 33 cycle from which these songs come.

Padmore has chosen five Lachner songs. Die einsame Träne derives from Schubert: explicit musical special effects. Not a deep song but a good introduction to the composer because it shows his relationship to the master. Padmore follows this with songs that show more of Lachner's individuality. Listen out for Im Mai set by Schumann seven years later at the start of Dichterliebe. Lachner's lyrical circular patterns expand. Singing them must make your  heart soar. The fullness and promise of Spring. I love the piano part, which evokes a lyre - some shepherd playing in an Arcadian landscape? Great song.

Das Fischermädchen uses the same Heine text as Schubert used in Schwanengesang. What might Heine have further inspired in Schubert had Schubert not died too soon after discovering the poet? Schubert's Das Fischermädchen has powerfully erotic undercurrents. Lachner's is relatively prim, but pleasant. Padmore sang it at the Holywell Music Room in Oxford not long ago, bringing out its virtues.

Die Meerfrau is altogether fiercer stuff. Pounding ostinato, creating tension. Sirens are lovely but they lure men to their deaths. What's interesting about Lachner's approach is that he seems to  sympathize with the siren, as if he intuits that she can't help what she does. Sexuality runs through Lachner's Sängerfahrt, written as an engagement gift to his fiancée. It shows how unprudish Germans were even though they were chaste. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, but fundamentally healthy and positive. If Lachner lived today, he's probably be happily naked on the beach. Even more psychologically explicit is Ein Traumbild, which starts as a romantic wet dream, but as the incubus pulls the dreamer to her breast, he recoils in horror. Just in time, the cock crows, he's saved. Fabulously dramatic.

Get to the Wigmore Hall if you can at 1pm. If not, it's being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 live and will be online and on demand, with a repeat on Saturday (and another 7 days' listening after that. Padmore is planning a recording, which will be much welcome.  Hoho ! Listening to the nbroadcast I note the BBC p[rewsenters quoting me on Lachner. More important, though, there will be a broadcast of Angelike Kirschschlager's concert mentioned above, Monday performance on Three available online and on demand for 7 days. Read about it on the link in para 2

If in London, also get to the Purcell Room at 7.45 for Brahms Complete Violin and Piano Sonatas. Sholto Kynoch is one of the most gifted young song pianists around, but he's also established a strong reputation in chamber music. His Messiaen disc is very good indeed. He'll be playing at the Purcell Room with Alda Dizdari. The other night I was having a quick dinner at Le pain Q when I looked up at a South Bank publicity screen. There she was, fantastically glamorous  I've heard Kynoch and Kaoru Yamada many times, but not Dizdari. Since Kynoch works with partners for their musical abilities, not their looks, he and Dizdari should be interesting.
photo credit : Marco Borggreve

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