Sehnsucht, D636; Suleika I, D720; Gretchen am Spinnrade, D118; Delphine, D857; Dei Gebüsche, D646; Klärchens Lied, D210; Bei dir allein, D866/2
Waldeseligkeit; Windräder; Regen; Japanisches Regenlied; Nocturne; Und gestern hat er mir Rosen gebracht; Hat dich die Liebe berührt
Petra Lang (mezzo-soprano) & Adrian Baianu (piano)
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: 20 October, 2008
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
This concert was notable for including seven Lieder each of Franz Schubert and Joseph Marx, the latter described in 1952 by no less a figure than Wilhelm Furtwängler as “the leading force of Austrian music.”
Several parallels exist between Marx and Richard Strauss, not least a life lived some way into the 20th-century. The two also share in their early style a rich harmonic dressing, in Marx’s case careful not to fall into over-romanticising. This well chosen selection from Petra Lang and Adrian Baianu visited several countries and covered six years in the composer’s output, from the “Windräder” of 1906 to “Nocturne” of 1912. The windmills of the former were beautifully portrayed by Baianu’s righ- hand, while in “Nocturne” Lang used a powerful tone above the flowing contours of the piano line.
Baianu was also careful not to dominate in “Waldseligkeit”, with Lang’s stirring melody the principal feature. Perhaps the best song, however, is “Japanisches Regenlied”, the mysteriously wandering chords coming together in the singer’s forceful ending with the text “my love never ceases either, since I first set eyes on you.”
Perhaps the best-known Marx song is “Hat dich die Liebe berührt”, and Lang’s high B flat at its climactic point was perfectly tuned and weighted.
It was perhaps unfair to place Marx with seven of Schubert’s better-known Lieder in this BBC Lunctime Concert, but the younger composer survived the comparison intact. This was perhaps because the Schubert performances didn’t feel quite so zestful, with Baianu’s accompaniments coming across as rather clotted towards the end of “Sehnsucht”, despite Lang’s striking switches of mood. “Gretchen am Spinnrade” also felt rather thickly spread, the rhythms of the piano part not always clear.
Lang deployed a rich lower register towards the end of “Delphine”, and tasteful slides between notes in “Klärchens Lied”, the third Goethe setting of the group. Best of all was the final “Bei dir allein”, and in particular its rapturous closing bars, where Lang threw off the wide ranging melody with ease.