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Matthias Goerne – baritone / Ingo Metzmacher – piano


Wigmore Hall 20 February 2007


Franz Schubert: Die Götter Griechenlands D677; Philoktet D540; Fragment aus dem Aeschylus D450; Der entsühnte Orest D699; Heliopolis I D753; Heliopolis II D754; An die Leier D737; Atys D585. Meeres Stille D216; Schiffers Scheidelied D910. Der König in Thule D367; Blondel zu Marien D626; Die Gebüsche D646; Der Hirt D490; Pilgerweise D789; Wandrers Nachtlied I D224; Frühlingsglaube D686; Das Heimweh D851; Der Kreuzzug D932; Abschied D475


Matthias Goerne has been chosen as the first recipient of the new Wigmore Medal. I cannot think of another singer would could have put together and realised tonight's programme, taking take his audience through such an emotionally charged exploration of Schubert's lieder.


Goerne's opening seemed conventional enough, with Die Gotter Griechlands to Schiller's poem lamenting the passing of the world of classical Greek civilisation. From there he moved on to of settings of other poems connected with classical legend, narratives of lost heroes interspersed with descriptions of that distant lands. Atys, the final song in this section, describes the shepherd's longing to cross the sea and return to his homeland, and it led into two more songs referring to the sea – a calm one - Meeres Stille – and one filled with treacherous waves which will engulf the sailor – Schiffers Scheidelied.


After the interval we were back again in historic times with three romantic ballads, Der Konig in Thule , Blondel zu Marien, and Die Gebusche. With Die Hirt love turned to agony as the tolling of the clock tower bell reminds the shepherd that he has lost his sweetheart.


The next song Pilgerweise is described in the programme as “one of Schubert's gloomiest songs” and from that point in the recital the mood became progressively darker and more desolate and the pace slower, until time drew to almost to a standstill for the long farewell of Abschied.


Goerne has the clearest of baritones, meltingly soft and a joy to hear. But it is the sheer power of concentration he projects which turned this into an extraordinary, and very introspective performance. He came onto the platform carrying a copy of the Wigmore Hall programme, which contained full texts of all the songs. He placed this on the lid of the piano and turned sideways to it for a much of the time. He was so totally focused on the music that he seemed to be not so much ignoring the audience as largely unaware of our presence.


His pianist, the conductor Ingo Metzmacher, was an equal partner in the evening's charged intensity.


Serena Fenwick



Photo credit Decca/Sasha Gusov