Anne Sofie von Otter at Wigmore Hall (4 July 2014)
The chipper Swedish mezzo brought long time partner in crime Bengt Forsberg (piano) and Steven Isserlis (cello) for a jazzy evening from the Wigmore Lates series (starts at 10pm and runs for an hour without intermission; jazz performance in the bar area afterwards included).
W. Peterson-Berger: Intet ar som vantans tider | Aterkomst
W. Stenhammar: Positivvisa Op. 38 No. 4
H. Alfven: Skogen sover Op. 28 No. 6 | Saa tag mit hjerte R203
J. Sibelius: Granen Op. 75 No. 5 (solo piano) | Solitude/Den judiska flickans sang Op. 51
M. Gabus: Deploration pour une amie defunte (solo cello)
G. Faure: Serenade toscane Op. 3 No. 2 | Dans les ruines d’une abbaye Op. 2 No. 1 | Apres un reve Op. 7 No. 1 (cello arrangement)
R. Wagner: Traume (from Wesendonck Lieder)
J. Lennon/P. McCartney: Martha my dear | Here, there and everywhere (piano/cello) | For no one | Honey Pie | Good Day, Sunshine (I may have forgotten one)
L. Bernstein: Dream with me
It was an informal evening and von Otter (in a bright purple + summery-floral outfit) was extremely chatty and laid back1. It felt like we were in her lounge for tea and entertainment. The three of them started almost as soon as they stepped on stage and worked together really well. I especially liked Isserlis’s playful, light touch, which supported von Otter’s gentle, bright mezzo wonderfully. She’s almost 60 but her voice still keeps its trademark agility and she rocked a number of pianissimos. As interpretation went, there were three “incarnations” for von Otter to inhabit: the Swedish one, the French one and the English one. She brought enough quirks for each one to be slightly different.
My favourite moments were the smirky Positivvisa and the very fresh rendition of Serenade toscane. The otherworldly albeit neither twee nor overly sentimental Gabus piece was an unexpected highlight.
I didn’t think her voice fit the Beatles’ songs very well but she was nonetheless very into it and the performance part was top notch. Good Day Sunshine still won over my Beatles un-thawed heart. The three of them make a crackin’ jazz-ish trio a few good notches above what I normally see when I go to pop concerts (maybe I need to attend better ones 😉 ). The Bernstein tune came off excellent.
This time I sat towards the back and the crowd was quite different there. The announcer warned us the performance was being recorded, still the posh (or fake posh) buggers around me ran with the informal feeling. One of them sighed wistfully and audibly every time a song ended, like she was the love of his life. Another one felt the need to broadcast his impressions about each song once it finished. Yet another one was either stomping his feet or clapping against the back of my chair. Must’ve been the refreshments before the show 😉 I mean how dare they get so into it?! Stomping aside, good times.
- is this a Swedish thing? Hallenberg also comes off as very chill. And they are both great at Ariodante. ↩