Thursday, 19 August 2010

Oxford Lieder Festival 2010

The Oxford Lieder Festival is small, but is extremely important.  It's quite an achievement, extremely well organized and comprehensive, a model for intelligently-presented festivals of any kind.  Ten years ago, Lieder was relatively niche in the UK, now it's firmly part of the landscape. Thanks, in part, to Oxford Lieder,with its recitals, workshops, schools projects, masterclasses etc. Singers, pianists and dare I say it the media, are more aware how a solid foundation in art song makes a huge impact on vocal performance.(FOR DETAILS OF OXFORD LIEDER 2011 please see HERE.)  As usual I'll be at most concerts.

This year's Oxford Lieder Festival starts Oct 15th but make bookings now as many things sell out fast. Many concerts take place in the Holywell Music Room (pictured), the oldest dedicated recital room in Europe where Mozart, Handel and Haydn played live. Perfect acoustic, if marred by occasional street noise, but that's part of the atmosphere. It's intimate, which is perfect for Lieder and chamber music, where art matters more than glitz.

Wolfgang Holzmair sings the opening recital on Friday 15th, with Julius Drake. Schumann, but not the usual cycles we hear all the time, often not to best advantage. instead, Kerner-Lieder which Holzmair recorded beautifully and rarer Heine settings. Definitely a concert for those who really care about Schumann.  Indeed, all through the festival there will be Schumann recitals and events, including "Lunch with Schumann" - refreshment for the soul!

The Prince Consort will be singing Schumann Spanisches Liederspiel and Liebeslieder on 21st with a premiere by Ned Rorem (Prince Concert speciality) with Stephen Hough's Herbstlieder and part songs by Quilter and Barber. Review HERE. Not something you hear everyday.Also look out for "An introduction to Polish Song" (30/10) with Maciek O'Shea and Sholto Kynoch, which will include Chopin and Liszt songs but also lesser-known treasures. Maciek is I think a native speaker and very well informed.

Oxford Lieder does "different" extremely well.  On 16th Katarina Karnéus sings Sibelius and Ture Rangström which should be unmissable too, as she's one of his leading exponents.  Later that night at 10pm Schubert songs with guitar, an instrument Schubert loved and played, so they need to be known to appreciate how he thought. There are lots of Schubert guitar songs, includiung a transcription of Die schöne Müllerin. Christoph Denoth plays, possibly period guitar. Read about him HERE. Seriously interesting concert, and in New College Chapel, itself an experience at night.

I'm also booking for the pair of Hugo Wolf recitals, 21st and 22nd, when James Gilchrist, Stephan Loges, Anna Grevelius and Sophie Daneman sing the complete Wolf Mörike songbook. Since Wolf is one of the greatest Lieder composers of all, he's long been an Oxford Lieder trademark, so this will be good. 

Sir Willard White sings this year's Gala concert - Schumann, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Ives and Copland. Eugene Asti pianist. Imagine White singing Schumann's Husaren-Lieder! This will be fun. If you pay an extra £30 you get to sit in special reserved seats and enjoy a post-concert reception with White and Asti,. It's worth doing as this helps support Oxford Lieder which is entirely privately funded.

Closing concert is Jonathan Lemalu, in a well-chosen  programme which suits him, and includes Schumann's Andersen Lieder and Richard Rodney Bennett.  Many other recitals,  Sophie and Mary Bevan, Felicity Palmer and many up and coming young singers. Oxford Lieder has spotted many young singers long before they become really famous, so this is another reason for supporting it. Lots of classes and other activities and chamber recitals, too. Incidentally, the Oxford Chamber Music Festival now starts and ends just before the Oxford Lieder Festival, so they complement each other. 

photo credit : Ny Björn

No comments: