Christian Gerhaher & Gerold Huber at Wigmore Hall – Brahms

A selection of Lieder

Christian Gerhaher (baritone) & Gerold Huber (piano)

Reviewed by: Alexander Campbell

Reviewed: 14 December, 2021
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

There’s something wonderful about the way these two artists interact. They listen to every momentary nuance that the other brings to any rendition and adjust their own accordingly, and to telling effect.

The first half of the programme was a rather intense affair with the brooding songs of Opus 32 followed by the Four Serious Songs (Opus 121) with their liturgical texts drawn from Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Gerhaher made much of the words, imbued with inner fervour, relishing emotions and contrasts, aided by the lyrical undertow and agitated playing of Huber. You could have heard a pin drop! Both brought a wonderful sense of the pensive to the last of the Nine Lieder and Songs, ‘Wie bist du, meine Königin’.

The second half was more varied in mood, albeit still dominated by songs with sombre hues. Huber and Gerhaher brought a haunted quality to ‘Meine Leider’ and Gerhaher an almost microscopic examination of certain words that to some might have felt too contrived. The interplay of the instrumental and vocal lines in ‘Treue Liebe’ showed this partnership at its most potent. The choices drawn from Opus 59 heralded a slight change of pace; best was the sense of open-eyed wonder brought to ‘Dein blaues Auge hält so still’. The final selection of songs included ‘Von ewiger Liebe’ which concluded with the solidifying qualities of the iron and steel mentioned in the poetry; and the cool forest was on the turn of becoming a bleak place indeed – the last line delivered with a wintry hollow tone.

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