Category Archives: wigmore hall

Dorothea Röschmann returns (Wigmore Hall, 10 September 2018)

Judging by the recent interest in certain older posts, I see you’re dying to find out if I attended to DR show at Wiggy this past Monday. I did! No schedule is too busy or September too cold1 when specific singers are in town.

It’s been almost two years since DR’s last Wiggy date. In the meantime her biggest engagement in London has been second cast Desdemona at ROH, which I read was very fine although I didn’t attend because late Verdi.

Surprisingly, this time she was the most relaxed and perhaps even happy2 that I’ve seen her. Wisely she stayed close to the middle of her voice for most of the show, though, DR being DR, she had to spread her wings on a few occasions, especially after the interval. She can still hit the heights, though it by no means feels particularly easy – or clean sounding, for that matter. But the middle is as full and as attractive as always and the lows have gained a commanding gravitas.

Her pianissimos were all beautiful and deftly executed and the pathos was of course there, as it has this funny tendency of clinging to her. I enjoyed the piano singing so much that I wanted her to continue like that for the next couple of days (or years) 😉 Yes, the time has come to visit with DR for the soft singing. Who’s complaining? Not me.

Dorothea Röschmann soprano
Malcolm Martineau piano

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart Op. 135

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Mörike Lieder
An eine Äolsharfe
Das verlassene Mägdlein
Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens
Denk’ es, o Seele!
Auf ein altes Bild


Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Alte Liebe Op. 72 No. 1
Auf dem Kirchhofe Op. 105 No. 4
Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht Op. 96 No. 1
Unbewegte laue Luft Op. 57 No. 8
Liebestreu Op. 3 No. 1
Meine Liebe ist grün Op. 63 No. 5
Wir wandelten Op. 96 No. 2
Nachtigall Op. 97 No. 1
Von ewiger Liebe Op. 43 No. 1


Die Lotosblume (Schumann)
Es muss ein Wunderbares sein (Liszt)

It was a low key thing but rather relaxed low key than super intense. I really liked Die Lotosblume, she gave it a gentle delicacy that plucked at my sometimes not easily pluckable heartstrings.

In related news: Mitsuko Uchida casually attended the show (it’s always good to have another top accompanist on hand, lest your audience makes complicated travel arrangements and the show gets cancelled due to accompanist issues; just sayin’…3) and Wiggy has refurbished its toilets for the Autumn Season! Let me assure you Salzburg has nothing on Wiggy anymore, the toilets are a sight to behold 😉 if half your audience disappears after the interval you know where to find them (the restaurant is cool, too).

  1. yes, gentle reader, it’s that time of the year again – the time to start complaining about how cold London gets without being actually cold. We’ve had a great summer, yay! – but it’s over, oh, so over. 
  2. she’s always struck me as a very private and even shy person so even when she’s happy it may be difficult to read it as that. But this time she smiled on a good few occasions. I’m not sure I’ve seen her smile a real smile before, although she’s regaled us with her share of silly songs. 
  3. it’s the second mezzo this year who’s done the two strikes and I’m not shelling out for tickets anymore jig. 

Sara Mingardo, Francesca Biliotti and the hunt for Monday lunch (Wigmore Hall, 21 May 2018)

along Regent’s Canal

This was the second time in recent years that Mingardo came to Wiggy for a Monday Lunchtime Concert, which is a short but sweet (re: informal) deal. This was also – concidentally (ha!) – the second time thadieu did the same 😉

Since it was a very early performance and the day looked good for London (pretty warm, no rain), we decided to make a day out of it and by 11am we were already at the train station (neither one of us is an early riser).

The idea was to find a bubble tea place but there aren’t a lot of them in London and I definitely wouldn’t know one way or another. Thadieu found two online: one in Camden and one in Wembley. Now since Wembley is just one block away from the Outer London area better described as There Be Dragons, Camden it was. However, by the time the train got moving it became pretty clear that the bubble tea had to wait until after the show.

Sara Mingardo contralto
Francesca Biliotti contralto
Giovanni Bellini theorbo
Giorgio Dal Monte harpsichord

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Settimo libro de madrigali
Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben, dov’è il mio core? ‘Romanesca’
Con che soavità, labbra odorate

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
Toccata nona

Claudio Monteverdi
Settimo libro de madrigali
Vorrei baciarti
Voglio di vita uscir, voglio che cadano

Settimo libro de madrigali
Non è di gentil core
O come sei gentile

Giovanni Kapsberger (c.1580-1651)
Canzone prima

Claudio Monteverdi
Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti

As you can see, the show was pretty much Settimo libro de madrigali with two contraltos (for the price of one). We had fifth row centre seats, thanks to Baroque Bird, so we saw everything and heard Mingardo and the harpsichord really well. She was in very good spirits and smiled more or less through the show. It’s quite unsual to be in a position to feel a contralto is loud but Wiggy’s first few rows can offer you that opportunity. Her top is bright as it is and it came through.

Biliotti, on the hand, was more reserved, which I chalked up to nerves. The times we heard her she showed off a very nice voice (especially in the duets). Dal Monte was manning the harpsichord the last time we saw Mingardo and he played the same solo piece. Last time I didn’t get much out of it but this time I slightly warmed up to it. It’s actually a lot shorter than I remembered it 😉 The Kapsberger piece for theorbo was one of those things where you go “and that was the theorbo”…

So once the performance was over I suggested we go directly to the Green Room and give our thanks to Mingardo. Thadieu was already in omg, omg-fan mode but, as I was saying, if you want to say hello and thank you for the music to your favourite singer there is not better place than Wiggy after a Lunchtime Concert. We walked backstage and found a very tiny queue ahead of us, consisting of a few friends of Biliotti’s (she’s based in London) and a lady I see at practically all the Baroque shows to the point I even wonder if she’ll be there before I get to the venue (she always is).

Then came our turn and we told her how we’d seen her in random places around Europe as well as Detroit for thadieu, which always gets a surprised look. As you probably know from thadieu’s account, the omg, omg-fan mode worked against us securing the picture we actually got with her but we still have the nice little conversation and her gracious nature.

After us she sort of walked to the side (by the fireplace) as if to catch her breath from all the attention and let Biliotti hug her friends from the Monteverdi Choir, which she later introduced to her. Thinking we could get a shortcut, we turned the first right and ended up on the Wiggy stage 🙂 The venue looks rather small from there!


To get our bearings a bit, we decided Camden was close enough to walk, so we cut through Regent’s Park and then walked along the canals – not on par with Venice but still a scenic route. The skies darkened a bit but it didn’t really rain before we got to Camden. Once in the Camden Market, which is just off the canal, we tried to find the bubble tea place.

The market is a maze of stalls and most of the time your best direction is it must be here somewhere – but we found a good Samaritan who all but said to us when are you going to ask me to show you the way? We’re liberated women so we ignored him until he actually pointed the way because he was listening in (what’s a hero in waiting to do?). We found it, upstairs and around the corner, because the market in a nutshell is upstairs/downstirs, turn right, turn left, past that fake exotic food stall then past that incense stand.

It was shut down, empty inside – much like our stomachs. So there we were, at about 2:30pm on a Monday, with one Vietnamese restaurant in my old general area shut on Mondays and another one thadieu was fairly sure would be breaking until the early afternoon. That’s the small problem with early shows on a Monday, you might end up starving in your own town – or break down and have a sandwich. Anyway, we still made our way to the bus stop just as it started to rain in earnest. We caught one of the new “vintage” Boris-double deckers that you can board from the back and the seats are more comfortable than they look.

As we finally arrived in Finsbury Park the skies started to brighten, but our luck not so much. The first restaurant was so shut and bolted you couldn’t even consult a menu (leftover from 2011’s riots? Locksmiths made a mint that August). The second one would indeed open by 5:30pm. Thadieu was in that faint stage of barely able to walk for lack of nourishment. I was proceeding with determined haste and a grim face, braincells able to put together one thought only:

We decided it was best to take a sandwich leftover pitstop because there was no way we were going to make it to the park itself (where I initially suggested we hang out until opening time). Whilst we were scarfing down the Pret Sandwich of Goodness (as per thadieu) on the stoop of a townhouse, we heard the air ambulance pass us over. The sandwich perked us up a bit so we walked to the park and saw there had indeed been a pretty serious car crash by the station, traffic diverged etc.

By now the sun was out again and we went and sat on the grass in the park and watched the paramedics do something to the gurney. Some guy got into an altercation with the cops over something undiscernable and thadieu marvelled at how long they took to talk sense into him.

Eventually the air ambulance took off a lot less noisily than I thought it would and went off. With that we also returned to the restaurant and were the first to sit down and consult the menu that day. Food at long last! Though some locals who came after us were served first. We overordered but the food was good and I’m not one to say no to takeaway 😉

Jakub Józef Orlinski celebrates 100 years of Polish independence (Wigmore Hall, 13 June 2018)

You know how I always say that if the singer is French, the Wiggy audience gets a major influx of French speaking people, if the pianist is Korean – etc. Well, in this case there was an extra reason everybody seemed to speak Polish – the concert was broadcast on Polish TV and it was part of the celebrations around a century of Polish independence. It was a bit weird being there casually, as a lot of people around me seemed to be patriotically invested in the event.

I do actually have a personal story to go with this, and it’s as usual rather amusing. You know how we in Eastern Europe are always mixed with this and that. Well, so am I. For the longest time the story – told by mum – was that I was part Polish on my dad’s side. A couple of years ago she goes “oh, Czech, like your people”. Of course I was like :-O! “wait a second, didn’t you say we were Polish?” And she was like “oh, one of those!” She, who makes a way bigger deal about her heritage than I do, was so casual about my heritage! You can imagine that for a moment or two the pillars of my identity got a good shake. I may not make a bog deal about it but I do care about accuracy. Anyway, I’m none the wiser (due to complicated communication issues within my family), but thanks to the confusion I felt a bit (more?) Polish that night.

Jakub Józef Orlinski countertenor
Michal Biel piano

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Inumano fratel … Stille amare Tolomeo HWV25

Henry Purcell (c.1659-1695)
Music for a while Z583
If music be the food of love Z379c
What power art thou (Cold Genius aria) Z628
Strike the viol Z323

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Auf der Donau D553
Die Stadt Schwanengesang D957
Nachtstück D672

Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947)
A Chloris
Fêtes galantes
L’heure exquise


Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Kurpie Songs Op. 58
Lecioly zórazie
Wysla burzycka
Uwoz mamo
U jeziorecka

Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
Four Love Sonnets

Pawel Lukaszewski

George Frideric Handel
Agitato da fiere tempeste Riccardo Primo, re d’Inghilterra HWV23

And indeed, in spite of the Handel arias, I actually enjoyed the Polish songs best, as Orlinski sounded to me very relaxed and at home in them. He has style (including versatility), intelligence and sensitivity, as well as presence and a very bright and enjoyable top, only lacking a wider range. There are a few countertenors I’ve heard so far who have a certain segment of their voice where things are top notch and they, quite understandably, march on arias and parts that showcase that particular segment. It’s not hard at all to figure out what that is, as you will hear it again and again during a recital. It’s of course, pleasant like witnessing a homerun, but it does also point to the limitations of a voice.

Die schöne Müllerin with Pavol Breslik (Wigmore Hall, 22 July 2018)

Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)
Die schöne Müllerin D795

Pavol Breslik tenor
Amir Katz piano

Last week was very hot and busy and I actually did not check to see what Breslik was singing before arriving at Wiggy. My carefully laid out plans had me bailing out at intermission not because I anticipated not enjoying myself but because I had work which I wasn’t able to swap.

Both I and my seatmate, strategically placed at the end of the row, started to consider the likelihood of upgrading, seeing as how it was sparsely attended – as many shows are, at this time of Summer. So we got to talking and he mentioned the lack of intermission. In the end I stayed for the duration, only skipping the encores (the first of which was Erlkonig, as I overheard from the lobby).

I find it curious that this was Breslik’s Wiggy debut, as he’s been around for quite some time. My first encounter with him was the Munich Lucrezia Borgia but the piece in which I actually appreciated his efforts was Haim’s recording of Il triumfo del tempo a di disinganno, where he was Tempo in that great lineup.

Anyway, the miller-maid was all right in his interpretation, though not beyond1. His voice has darkened and thickened since Tempo though it’s still got a certain allure. It was a bit monocolour but he pushed the ff pedal with the best of them, at times the sound even got distorted.

  1. Since hearing Gerhaher’s Magelone I really enjoy a narrator with song cycles. 

Song’n’jokes with Simon Keenlyside (Wigmore Hall, 27 May 2018)

27 May marked the ending of a very busy week, sometimes busy in ways that you really don’t need. On Monday thadieu and I witnessed the aftermath of a road accident that necessited air ambulance. On Sunday afternoon (27 May) someone rammed their car into our fence. Apparently nobody was hurt but the vehicle looked totalled and so is our gate. The cat bolted downstairs where I and the other cat were cooking (she with her back to the hob 😉 ) but he does that often enough that I didn’t overthink it. By the time I figured out what’d happened the Police and the Fire Brigade was already there.

Later on, a 10min downpour graced our area and it was exactly the 10min when I had to go to the station and catch the train that would get me into Central London for this performance. I have a humongous mint green umbrellaI I got the last time I had to sit through a performance in sloshing shoes… The joke this time: Central London was absolutely puddle-free and I must’ve looked like someone who’d jumped into a fountain to cool off their feet.

You can imagine that during the time it took me to get there via tube, my feet slowly pickling, I asked myself many times “is this worth listening to a baritone I barely know?” Well! It turns out it was.

Simon Keenlyside baritone
Malcolm Martineau piano

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Schwanengesang D957
Kriegers Ahnung
Der Atlas
Am Meer
Der Doppelgänger
An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht D614
Dass sie hier gewesen D775

Schwanengesang D957
Die Stadt
Im Abendrot D799

Schwanengesang D957
Das Fischermädchen


Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Tel jour, telle nuit

Suite française
II. Pavane (solo piano)


Quatre poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire
Carte postale
Avant le cinéma

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Voici que le printemps

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Le secret Op. 23 No. 3

Cinq mélodies ‘de Venise’ Op. 58
En sourdine

Le papillon et la fleur Op. 1 No. 1

Keenlyside is an interesting baritone – I’ve never heard so much (well used) falsetto not coming from a CT! Softly spoken, he has a major ping in his singing voice, which, my seatmate confessed, is better experienced from the back of the venue than from the front rows… from under the overhang it was great. His German diction is excellent in the French good (and his pronunciation is better than most others’). His tone, more than anyone else I’ve seen so far, seemed to match the sound of piano – he’s the Steinway of baritones.

Still the best part is his deadpan humour, which imbued even the darker songs. It was very hot in the hall – because it was very hot in London (hence the thunderstorms) – and he was wearing a suit and used about 324676 handkerchiefs, plus glasses of water. At one point, both he and Martineau took a sip of water break! As I was saying, it was very hot and even the chatty seatmate was feeling sorry for him having to wear a suit, but as time went on the besuited attitude softened into the Frenchness of the set and he was cracking jokes left and right.

This was one of the most unexpectedly light hearted shows I’d been to, especially in spite of the pickled feet disaster. I like his style and the only reason I had not posted this before is because that heat was heralding things to come. Mid June was a bit cooler but OMG, July = oven. It’s still 27C here and it’s been that hot for weeks. Summer of 2018 = hottest English Summer since 1976 (probably hotter than that one by now). So if you’re wondering where all the other Summer 2018 posts are – well, I’ll get to them sooner or later.

Wolf with Julius Drake and Ian Bostridge (Wigmore Hall, 17 June 2018)

About 2 years ago I saw Bostridge as Ulysse in the AAM concert performance tour when it stopped at the Barbie. I really liked his attention to detail and to this day he remains a favourite along with this year’s London Ulysse, Roderick Williams. Afterwards I didn’t pay much attention to his many Wiggy concerts but this season I thought I should get up to speed on the Bostridge lieder experience ™.

the stairs to the Wiggy restaurant

Ian Bostridge tenor
Julius Drake piano

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Aus meinen grossen Schmerzen
Du bist wie eine Blume
Mädchen mit dem roten Mündchen
Mein Liebchen, wir sassen beisammen
Wenn ich in deine Augen seh
Mit schwarzen Segeln
Wie des Mondes Abbild zittert
Goethe Lieder
Frech und Froh I
Frech und Froh II
Der Rattenfänger
Gutmann und Gutweib
Grenzen der Menschheit



London has fountains, too

Mörike Lieder

Der Genesene an die Hoffnung
Der Knabe und das Immlein
Der Tambour
Nimmersatte Liebe
Auf ein altes Bild
In der Frühe
Peregrina I
Peregrina II
Der Feuerreiter


Schubert, of course

Well, it turned out that getting a ticket at the end of the next block was a good idea, because Dr Bostridge likes a good, brightly toned, laser-like and anguished shout with his Wolf. If we’re not quite sure what Van Mallaerts is, Bostridge is 100% tenor. And 100% white voice. So if you like that, he’s the man for you. He also got really alarmingly intense when he wasn’t nonchalantly leaning against the piano. I considered offering to make him a nice cuppa.

On the other hand, Julius Drake was 100% fun. I really enjoyed his accompaniment. You may remember I don’t always get into the instrumental part of things but sometimes some accompanists do get my attention quite vividly (more recently, Scalera and Manoff did). Following Drake’s amazing work with dynamics and timing was unexpectedly easy and exciting!

Modest proposal 2018: Wiggy needs to think about ways to implement the mute-the-anguished-tenor button.

you: dehggi, that’s called the instrumental music concert, which has made Wiggy famous.
dehggi: I heard of such things, but they don’t usually play the lieder scores, do they?

Christine Rice MIA, Julien Van Mallaerts in de hause (Wigmore Hall, 18 June 2018)

I’m all for privacy but what is going in in the Rice camp, y’all? This year alone I was supposed to see her three times (January, March and June) and everything ended up cancelled. I hope things are on the mend, for everyone’s sake.

Wiggy presented us with a young upstart instead, namely baritone Julien Van Mallaerts, who is about to go to Bayreuth for some Wagnerian schooling. He did sound like that. The end.


With Rice we were expecting a French programme (La voix humaine) so we at least got that (not La voix humaine – but wouldn’t it be fun to hear a baritone sing it?). You know I like ze French songse. His French diction is good (or I had a very good seat) and he seemed like he really got into it interpretively. Pity we didn’t know what was so funny, though based on the titles I’m sure it was. I need to get a bit more culture (not just about Madama Butterfly). I thought he had a nice, run-of-the-mill baritone but Anna wasn’t so sure it was a bari-tone after all (his low notes were a bit cloudy to me, especially if he wanted to do pp. He was at his best when he could employ bright and loud highs).

Whatever it is, it wasn’t offensive but nothing much to write home about as far as I’m concerned. How about a picture of Camden instead1? It was such a warm and gorgeous day on Monday, Anna and I decided to walk along the Regent Canal (yes, I wanted to take some pictures like I couldn’t after the last Lunchtime Concert when the battery died after two measly shots 😉 ).

not quite Venice but nice cow, eh?

Julius Drake was a treat twice within less than 24hours, though I thought he was a lot more interesting (like super cool) in the German programme. I commend that work ethic!

Julien Van Mallaerts baritone
Julius Drake piano

Henri Duparc (1848-1933)
La vie antérieure

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Fêtes galantes Book II
Les ingenus
Le faune
Colloque sentimental

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Histoires naturelles
Le paon
Le grillon
Le martin-pecheur
La pintade
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
Chanson romanesque
Chanson epique
Chanson a boire


Nachtlied Schubert

  1. It has come to my attention that I don’t post enough pictures, so there you go, nautical London. 

Stéphane Degout: not quite it (Wigmore Hall, 5 June 2018)

If you take enough chances, the time will come when something falls flat like a souffle. I have to report that Degout hasn’t left much of an impression on me, beside his nicely pronunced French.

Stéphane Degout baritone
Simon Lepper piano

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Aurore Op. 39 No. 1
Poème d’un jour Op. 21
Automne Op. 18 No. 3

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
O kühler Wald Op. 72 No. 3
Die Mainacht Op. 43 No. 2
Auf dem Kirchhofe Op. 105 No. 4
Feldeinsamkeit Op. 86 No. 2
Alte Liebe Op. 72 No. 1
Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen Op. 32 No. 2
Willst du, dass ich geh? Op. 71 No. 4


Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Kerner Lieder Op. 35

I have an inkling that French chanson can be shouted in a nervous manner and not suffer for it but during the first half of the programme I did not discern much dynamic variation. I mean, there was, but not used for contrast, rather this song was sung forte, the next mezzoforte etc.

Degout has a very bright and penetrating voice (is this a French thing? = light beam; I was in the last row but it carried like a bullet, for better (diction in both languages) and worse (even volume)). It’s not unpleasant by any means but it’s quite colourless and with the lack of… moulding, its effect felt to me like what thadieu calls water faucet.

On top of that his face stayed slightly pained/startled for the duration. It’s not one’s fault when they don’t have a mobile face but in this case that only made matters worse. Curiously, he also took on the stance of the Tower of Pisa, alternatively leaning towards the right for good periods of time and righting himself for a while. I hope he wasn’t in any kind of actual pain.

I did enjoy Lepper’s accompaniment, though I can’t say anything further than his handling of the instrument worked for me.

I had to leave at the interval but for once that didn’t bother me too much. Maybe the Schumann would’ve got my attention but I kinda doubt it.

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve seen Degout – that would be a couple of weeks ago, in Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence. Which brings me to another subject – the backlog. Yes, dear reader, a backlog has accumulated in the opera, innit? drawer because… well, because sometimes regardless of how you feel about a show you don’t feel quite like writing.

Due to Benjamin’s opera (another thing I took a chance on, with mixed results), I’ve attended Barbara Hannigan’s Masterclass and Degout’s recital. Whilst the masterclass has given me plenty of food for thought – and is actually one of the few things partly written – I have not finished it yet.

I also mean to write another post about Venice, a bit about Sara Mingardo’s recital-plus my and thadieu’s quest for a meal in London 😉 as well as Simon Keenlyside’s VERY funny recital (it’s contralto and baritone season chez dehggi) – what a contrast to Degout! – and a few words on how I realised Franco Fagioli is actually one of my favourite singers (shudder-gasp, I know).

Evening longing with Matthias Goerne (Wigmore Hall, 24 April 2018)

Goerne is one of those people who does not sing in a repertoire I frequent, but, for whatever reason, I thought I should go see him (I do read reviews/writeups of a wider rep than I physically enjoy and in hindsight it can be hard to pinpoint what made me curious about one singer/work or another).

Once again, it was a wise choice (wise beyond my ears, that’s me). Right from the getgo I thought, wow, this is a gorgeous voice! And later I could see how skilled he is at building drama with that lucky break he got from the universe. The second part of the performance did start to get a bit same-y in mood, which happens often enough in recitals, as singers I guess find a groove that works for their psyche and/or voice and go with it, often potentially losing the casual listener who’d like a bit of variation.

The general mood that works for him seems to be rather sinister – it fit seamlessly with the cruel-ish intentions dream (I know, right? ha.ha…) I had woken up with that morning – which kept my imagination busy particularly during the Pfitzner set.

Seong-Jin Cho brought all the Korean women in the Wiggy yard – and I mean all of them! I hadn’t seen so many Koreans in one place since Uni days (my school was very popular with South Koreans). One of them came and asked me about my seat (remember that story? this was the first time it happened that week) but then softly drifted away before I could even answer, just like Cho’s pps 😉

Matthias Goerne baritone
Seong-Jin Cho piano

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Drei Gedichte von Michelangelo

Hans Pfitzner (1869-1949)
Sehnsucht Op. 10 No. 1
Wasserfahrt Op. 6 No. 6
Es glänzt so schön die sinkende Sonne Op. 4 No. 1
Ist der Himmel darum im Lenz so blau Op. 2 No. 2
An die Mark Op. 15 No. 3
Abendrot Op. 24 No. 4
Nachts Op. 26 No. 2
Stimme der Sehnsucht Op. 19 No. 1


Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Wesendonck Lieder

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Traum durch die Dämmerung Op. 29 No. 1
Morgen Op. 27 No. 4
Ruhe, meine Seele Op. 27 No. 1
Freundliche Vision Op. 48 No. 1
Im Abendrot from Four Last Songs

Baroque triomphe (Wigmore Hall, 6 May 2018)

L’Amour Triomphe

Royal Academy of Music Baroque Soloists
Rachel Podger violin

This was the second time last week when I had to cut a performance short due to work. It happens (so I’m less critical with people who leave at the interval; you never know what their reasons were).

The show was lovely for three reasons: Podger is a wonderful soloist, the students were very good and the musical selections likewise. Though the violin isn’t my favourite sound (especially when it comes to the ways it was used in the second half of the 19th century, but then I usually frind that musical period difficult to crack…), Baroque-style violin has done a lot of good for my warming up to it.

In this context of further opening to new (to me) things, I more than enjoyed Podger’s playing – fluid and playful yet perfectly controlled. Her sense of style is fabulous (super flexible, light). Baroque Bird quipped that the students could’ve relaxed more, as they were doing very well and appeared enthusiastic (especially the trumpets), kept the rhythm without overpowering the others (the harpsichords). And indeed, I can think of at least one established Baroque band that could consider themselves so lucky to sound as disciplined and accurate as the RAM Baroque Soloists… The impish slide to ppp(p) in the pizzicato part was ace – but you know I’m very partial to the soft approach.

A few days ago I was reading YT comments on a certain pop song, where a conversation had started on whether the greatness of classical music vs pop lies in its being harder to play. Someone who’d done both mentioned how often times single classical piece parts are easy because the focus is on sound as a whole, rather than on solo parts. As they say, the devil is in the details – how you approach them, what you do with them.

Georg Phillipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Don Quichotte auf der Hochzeit des Comacho TWV21:32 (excerpts)

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Platée RCT 53 (excerpts)

Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787)
Don Juan (excerpts)


Jean-Philippe Rameau
Pigmalion RCT 52 (excerpts)