Britten • schubert

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Britten • schubert
LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
WORKS: Britten: Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente, Op. 61; Oft in the stilly night; The Minstrel Boy; At the mid hour of night; Rich and Rare; The Last Rose of Summer; Schubert: O Quell, was strömst du rasch und wild, D874; Im Frühling, D882; Im Freien, D880; Der Wanderer an den Mond, D870; Ständchen, D889; An Silvia, D891; Trinklied, D888
PERFORMER: Robin Tritschler (tenor), Iain Burnside (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: WHLive0071

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This short but sweet recital, live from Wigmore Hall, twins two great soulmates of song, Schubert and Britten. The increasingly eloquent and focused Irish tenor, Robin Tritschler, and his nimbly energising accompanist, Iain Burnside, are their advocates in an irresistible programme. The recital begins with Britten’s fine and still curiously under-performed settings of Friedrich Hölderlin – a Romantic poet ignored by Schubert. These performances are as bold and as idiomatic as the settings themselves. And the spare asperity of Hugo Wolf is perhaps a greater influence on Britten than that of Schubert here. It’s fascinating, too, to hear how the sensuous arioso of his ‘Sokrates und Alcibiades’ dialogue pre-echoes Britten’s writing in Death in Venice.

For Schubert, Tritschler’s light lyric tenor is the ideal recreator of spring, babbling brooks, starry and moonlit nights. I love the robust, springing tread he and Burnside bring to ‘Der Wanderer an den Mond’.

And so to Britten’s folksong arrangements. Tritschler naturally focuses on the composer’s settings of the Irish poet and close contemporary of Hölderlin, Thomas Moore. He brings a particular inflection, a particular poignancy to these songs: the effect of the bittersweet harmonic underlay in ‘Oft in the stilly night’ is matched by the wild harp march of ‘The Minstrel Boy’, and the dark, uneasy mourning within ‘The Last Rose of Summer’.

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Hilary Finch