Schubert with Angelika Kirchschlager (Wigmore Hall, 31 January 2018)

Angelika Kirchschlager is someone I’ve been aware of for what counts as forever but her contemporaries always appeared more interesting especially at a time when I was exclusively interested in opera and saw recitals as second best. As a result this was the first time I properly listened to her. It was a very pleasant semi-surprise.

Final concert in Schubert: The Complete Songs series
Angelika Kirchschlager mezzo-soprano
Julius Drake piano

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Namenstagslied D695
Frühlingsglaube D686
Geheimes D719
Im Frühling D882
Bei dir allein D866 No. 2
Lambertine D301
Am Bach im Frühling D361
Ganymed D544
Wiegenlied D498
In der Mitternacht D464
Erlkönig D328


Gesang der Norna D831
Der liebliche Stern D861
Romanze zum Drama Rosamunde D797 No. 3b
Suleika I D720
Suleika II D717
An den Mond D193
Der Jüngling an der Quelle D300
Der Wanderer an den Mond D870
Der Unglückliche D713
Lied des Florio D857 No. 2
Abschied von der Erde D829



I went because I can be a bit of a completist and because I kept remembering her from that Mozart docu (that shows the gaudy pink wallpaper from his house in all its splendor – I think) where she made singing Mozart sound like the bees knees. She can’t be all bad if she likes Mozart that much, can she? Then again, she’s from his hometown so I guess it’s the law to love Wolfie.

Two first things first: 1. Hair. That’s some hair she’s (still) got going! It’s like Galou’s nose (which I managed not to mention all this time 😉 ); there is hair and then there is Kirchschlager hair. I’m sure it’s boring for her and other well-maned people to hear about it but wow. I’m saying that appreciatively, even though I’m not particularly into hair (or noses – still Galou’s: ❤ ). 2. Mezzo? I know these fachs are approximative and at this point in her career it probably doesn’t matter anymore, plus her tone is very pleasant. But: mezzo?

Whatever her exact voice bracket, she can spin a phrase and sing lieder non-operatically and still have enough dynamic variation to hear comfortably anywhere in the hall (her excellent diction helps as well). A very interesting experience – somewhat like Antonacci in the sense of filling the hall without any apparent effort and definitely without shouting. She’s very different from Antonacci, though, so don’t get the wrong impression. It’s a very gentle/congenial sound, even when she steps on the pedal in something like Erlkönig – it’s still not commanding. It’s so delicate it feels a bit old skool girlie, especially hearing her so soon after Boni, who has that quintessential boyish mezzo tone, with a bit of kick to it. I was thinking it would be interesting to hear them together, also I should give her Octavian another try. I’m more ready for a very girlie Octavian nowadays.

In any case, this was exquisitely sung lieder, a mix of well used experience and enough spontaneity and youthfulness. Sometimes something done in the simplest manner can have a strong effect.

About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on February 16, 2018, in live performances, mezzos & contraltos, wigmore hall and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I find myself with the sudden urge to unpack and revisit my Kirchschlager/Pieczonka Rosenkavalier.

  2. I know what you mean about the hair! Surprisingly in the Pieczonka/Kirchschlager Rosenkavalier she had it well hidden. In Act I I did not find her Octavian that “girly”… she played him like a bratty young male – a well recognizable male type! I can’t comment on her interpretation in Act II because Carsen’s lighting/staging produced so many barriers between him and Sophie, that it was impossible to tell. In Act III I felt Angelica was way too girly as Mariendal. I don’t recall being too moved by the trio or ending. So for me, Angelika’s characterization was really uneven/unsatisfying. Pieczonka, however, was wonderful throughout!

    Girly is an interesting characterization. Have any others?

    • Girly in Octavian’s case? I guess usually they aren’t particularly girly, as singers seem to sing this role when they are more mature both vocally and dramatically. Interestingly, I didn’t think Tara Erraught was all that girly, in spite of her babyface. It might have to do with the stage movement, some singers are naturally more gracious or whatever it is that rings that “girly” bell for me. AK stood out as girly when I watched, which was a good while ago, but now’s a good time to check again.

  3. I saw her as Octavian at ROH in 2004 (?) and I don’t think she was very girly, otherwise I probably couldn’t remember her performance (and hair) that well, while I had to look up who sang the Marschallin (F. Lott apparently) :-). But gracious, yes, definitely!
    Yes, the voice is very pleasant, yet rich, and nicely relaxed, I play her singing “In the bleak midwinter” each Christmas (and your review reminds me that she probably deserves more attention than that).

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