Including Brahms’s Neun Lieder und Gesänge, Op.32 and selections from Wolf’s Mörike-Lieder
Robin Tritschler (tenor) & Simon Lepper (piano)
Reviewed by: Amanda-Jane Doran
Reviewed: 26 May, 2019
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Robin Tritschler and Simon Lepper at Wigmore Hall: songs of regret and resignation from Johannes Brahms, erotically-charged remorse from Hugo Wolf.
Tritschler was suffering a heavy cold and slightly edited the programme to avoid straining his voice; the compensation was of some baritonal moments in the Brahms. The lyrics of the Lieder und Gesänge are intense poems, the opening four by August von Platen deal with lost love and isolation. Tritschler plunged into the grim resignation and Lepper excelled, one minute ominous pacing and the next descriptive delicate tracery. Tritschler was sensitive to the texts, especially illuminating heartfelt lament. The remaining settings were inspired by the verse of the fourteenth-century Persian writer Hafiz. Tritschler’s clarity of diction and his tone were so impressive, as well as his exquisitely sensitive dynamics, whether for Lieder und Gesänge, or the four Daumer settings that were a beautifully crafted addendum.
Wolf’s settings of Eduard Mörike have an emotional depth and immediacy which are unique, a perfect marriage between music and verse, if not without their vocal challenges. Tritschler’s snuffles abated to give a performance of consummate understanding and phrasing. There was wit, tender descriptions of Nature and theatrical dramatic narrative; these in one song, ‘Der Jäger’, the huntsman who sets off in a thunderstorm looking for prey, preoccupied by the row he has had with his girlfriend. Tritschler’s smiles conveyed that all ended well.
Existential angst combined with guilt pervades many of Wolf’s songs. ‘Verborgenheit’ (Seclusion) was given with commitment and attention to detail, and the ‘Peregrina’ brace were outstanding. Tritschler’s grasp of these complex, troubled, and dream-like poems was so natural and beautiful as to be spellbinding. Mörike’s sunnier prose also made an appearance with ‘Im Frühling’, a delicious vision from a hilltop, the poet lying on his back, anticipating Spring and new love. Finally, ‘Storchenbotschaft’ (Stork-tidings), provided colourful humour.