LABELS: Warner/NVC Arts
PERFORMER: Ian Bostridge (ten),Julius Drake (pno)
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-83780-2 .. .#D18
David Alden’s staging of WIKTERREISE takes the protagonist on a journey from a huge, almost empty room to a white, empty nothingness and back to the room again.
Given the chance to act as well as sing, Ian Bostridge is every inch the anguished 19th-century lover, sinking to the floor in contemplation between songs, eyeing his knife in a suicidal moment, and kicking a chair across the room.
Whether or not you agree with the concept of staging the piece, of like the way it’s done, nothing really detracts from the beauty of Bostridge’s tone and his enormous range of vocal expression. His capacity for stillness makes the quiet moments, such as the opening of ‘Gefrorne Tränen’ and the end of ‘Frühlmgstraum’ quite breathtaking.
The striking change from a resonant acoustic to a dry one cleverly marks transition from the room of the opening numbers to the ‘white void’ of the central numbers of the cycle, increasing the immediacy of these songs. The picture quality here is one of the best I’ve seen, and there are optional English subtitles.
There is also a ‘making of documentary, which made me want to watch the whole thing again in the light of what I’d learned. During rehearsals the artists manage to steer Alden away from some of his wilder ideas, and come up with some good ones of their own. This film was originally made for television, and is a timely reminder of the current shortage of classical music programming.