|Icycles : Photo - LindyLoo Welsh|
In Opera Today, Claire Seymour reviews Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuindenhout's Die schöne Müllerin at the Wigmore Hall : Not with pianoforte but with fortepiano. Since Schubert himself composed on a fortepiano, the choice of instument has precedent. Christoph Prégardian and Andreas Staier pioneed the combination in the early 1990's. The shift in dynamics works extremely well. The fortepiano's timbre can suggest the sharp angularity of icicles, the blinding brightness of light on snow, and of course, the fragility that is at the heart of the cycle. Grande luxe pianism is all very well, but the cycle means a lot more.
"Standing at the centre of the Wigmore Hall platform, the grand fortepiano from the workshop of Christoph Kern (located in Freiburg im Breisgau in the Upper Rhine plain) was a beautiful sight to behold, its glossy chestnut-cherry colour wood gleaming with an elegant grain, its graceful curves evincing a quiet stylishness and assurance" .
"....If dynamic range is not one of the fortepiano’s strengths, then Bezuidenhout showed us that the instrument does offer variety, of timbre,
texture and colour. The softest passages were beautifully executed, with stylish discernment and detail. Moreover, the more rapid decay of the fortepiano’s tone seemed to become an integral expressive element. For example, the quaver-chords in the central section of ‘Am Feierabend’ were not only crystal-clear and light, but were followed by a distinct silence, the short rest evoking the slowing of the mill-wheel and the young man’s growing weariness, but also his unsettling self-doubts as he wonders if he can inspire love in the girl who has bewitched him. Similarly, at the close of ‘Danksagung an den Bach’, the gentle diminution of the postlude, with its delicate ornamentation, acquired an intimate, almost confessional, quality"