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Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 2 ) • Prégardien Père et Fils

A Father & Son Duo of Tenors

Christoph Prégardien, tenor-father, and Julian Prégardien, tenor-son, appeared on stage of the Angelika-Kauffmann Hall for the afternoon concert on August 28th and engaged in a light program of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, and Schubert—alternating for a few, tag-teaming a few others, but mostly going at these songs in versions that they arranged for two singers, one singing harmonies, just a third or sixth above or below, or simply with an artistically inspired time-delay. A fine idea that one not need to like to find agreeable; a nifty divertissement at best—occasionally less, rarely more.

>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 1 ) • An Introduction
>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 ( 5 ) • Diana Damrau & Xavier de Maistre
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 6 ) • Lemony Bostridge, Lascivious Röschmann
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 7 ) • Hagen Quartett I

There were a few highlights among the mix—perhaps most notably when Prégardien Sr. fittingly woke up in Beethoven's “Neue Liebe, neues Leben” where he no longer sounded like a tenor during the dusk of his career. Schubert's “Im Frühling”, too, was very fine. Prégardien Jr. wasn't on top of all his songs, either, with his more operatic and attractive but also more watery voice which declined prime-service on some high notes, but Beethoven's “Der Kuss”—hammed up for successful comedic affect—was served very well.

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F.Schubert, "Between Life & Death",
C.Prégardien / M.Gees
Challenge SACD

The duo-treatments, unfortunately, had fewer exceptions; they sounded a bit like musically talented tape recorders having been switched on at nearly—but not exactly—the same time. If it worked in Brahms’ Folk Song “Da unten im Tale”, it sounded unconvincing, simplistic, or downright naff in much of the rest. “Der Erlkönig”, also, with its great dramatic potential, made reasonable sense in this treatment, but whereas some audience members admitted to having had to cry during this penultimate piece before intermission, my tear ducts refused to open. Perhaps out of a general and perfectly unfair sense of annoyance.

The Schubert ballade “Die beiden Grenadiere”, popular but not exactly one of Schubert's finest hours, got what it deserved in rabble-rousing low-brow martial treatment. “Abends am Strand” received a surprising Variety Show work-over, which was funnier than it was pleasing to the ear.  Despite the almost unseemly length of the recital, the audience felt otherwise and trampled its way to several encores… but then it seems to do that in every concert.

The accompanist (Michael Gees) displayed a nice touch, sensitive play, rhythmic verve, but little influence over the performances themselves and was ultimately just that: an accompanist, not, despite the final group hug, an integral member of the team.

Picture © & courtesy Schubertiade GmbH. Detail; click to see entire picture.