Angelika Kirchschlager & Warren Jones at Alice Tully Hall

Meine Liebe ist grün; Nachtwandler; Über die Heide; O komme, holde Sommernacht; Salome; Däm’rung senkte sich von oben; Versunken
Mörike-Lieder [selection: Auf einer Wanderung; Auf ein altes Bild; Um Mitternacht; Begegnung; Zur Warnung; Er ist’s
Le souvenir d’avoir chanté; Seule; À Chloris; Quand je fus pris au pavillon; L’heure exquise; La chère blessure
Des Knaben Wunderhorn [selection: Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?; Verlor’ne Müh; Das irdische Leben; Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen; Rheinlegendchen; Lob des hohen Verstandes

Angelika Kirchschlager (soprano) & Warren Jones (piano)

Reviewed by: Irene McNamara

Reviewed: 29 November, 2009
Venue: Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City

Angelika KirchschlagerIt was a lovely Sunday afternoon in New York – warm, in fact, with the faintest hint of Thanksgiving still lingering in the air. With the relatives all on their way home and the final slice of leftover pumpkin pie sitting in the fridge (but not for long), the sun hung lazily in the air and the last few golden leaves seemed content to dangle a few days longer. In short, it was an ideal day to be delighted by an afternoon recital of art song.

The first set on the program was a group of Brahms Lieder from various opuses opening with “Meine Liebe ist grün”, composed to a poem by Felix Schumann, the youngest son of Robert and Clara. A jubilant song with a bustling piano accompaniment this proved to be a fitting opener and the first time out of many in which the audience was charmed by Angelika Kirchschlager’s thoughtful text-painting and Warren Jones’s lively and articulate playing. Brahms wrote over two hundred songs and Kirchschlager programmed some less-frequently performed compositions that showcase his characteristically long phrases that often spin a beautiful melody through the depths and heights of the vocal range. Such long phrases require excellent legato and breath-control, and there were moments when Kirchschlager seemed to run out of breath, sometimes gasping and cutting-off the ends of phrases too soon. In some instances, she may have chosen to do this for textual effect, but it, more often than not, left us wanting to hear her last note ring out just another second longer.

The songs by Hugo Wolf showed Kirchschlager at her best – animated and communicative with her gorgeous tone pouring out over the electric playing of Jones. ‘Auf einer Wanderung’ (On a Walk) and ‘Begegnung’ (Encounter) were particularly stunning, and Kirchschlager sent the audience into intermission laughing with a bit of comedy in ‘Zur Warnung’ (As a Warning) which stipulates how not to deal with a hangover!

The second half of the recital started with wonderful French mélodie by Reynaldo Hahn. Kirchschlager’s warm and creamy timbre is more than well suited to Hahn’s music, and it was a treat to hear her in two of Hahn’s most beautiful songs – “À Chloris” (To Chloris) and “L’heure exquise” (The Exquisite Hour). As with the Brahms set, I would have liked to hear a bit more finesse at the ends of phrases, but overall, she sang with profound passion and impeccable French.

The highlight came from a selection from Mahler’s “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” during which she was really in her element. ‘Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?’ (Who thought up this little song?) was both playful and touching, ‘Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen’ (Where the beautiful trumpets blow), with its imaginative soundscape marked by various horn-calls in the piano, stood out. For encores, Kirchschlager offered another darling Mahler ditty about young love, and Brahms’s lullaby – some of the most beautiful singing of the concert.

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