And tears are heard within the harp I touch.
Entered with the distinct hope that it would be better than the disappointing recital in Munich last month, Diana Damrau’s harp-supported Lied-recital with Xavier de Maistre at the Schubertiade (August 29th) confirmed two assumed tenets. One: A more intimate acoustic significantly enhances the viability of this program. And Two: The harp, solo often and as an accompanist almost certainly, is still an abominably boring and tedious instrument. This is not a universally held belief (harpists, for one, might take notable exception to this article of musical faith), but surely popular enough so as not to fear vast incrimination stating it publicly.*
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 1 ) • An Introduction
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 2 ) • Prégardien Père et Fils
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 3 ) • Belcea Quartet & Thomas Quasthoff
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 4 ) • Belcea Quartet & Till Fellner
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 6 ) • Lemony Bostridge, Lascivious Röschmann
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 7 ) • Hagen Quartett I
That said, honorable mentions should go to Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade”, where the harp accompaniment worked very well, and “Ave Maria” and “Ständchen”, where it wasn’t out of place either… even if the over-kitsched “Ave Maria” ("Ellens Gesang III”, as it is less well known as) with the addition of harp came near syrupiness.
Damrau’s take on the first few of five Schubert songs—replacing, for obvious reasons at the Schubertiade—more Richard Strauss that had been on the program originally, were surprisingly shrill and loud, but the lady settled down before long and certainly when she took herself all the way back in Strauss’ “Wiegenlied”, there was a mesmerizing moment of suspense and subtlety.
The rest of the program was French (the French bits having already worked better in Munich) and included two of the ever stupendous Henri Duparc songs, of which one really can’t get enough, no matter in what form they are presented.
Picture © & courtesy Schubertiade GmbH. Detail; Click to see entire picture.
* I know a heated argument can be made that, really, it’s the flute that takes the cake of tedium, but this being open to intelligent debate, I’m as of yet unwilling to come down on either side as the instrumental princess of ennui.)
You can hear this concert recorded and broadcast by Austrian Radio here, presumably until the 11th: