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Schubert & Schumann

Jonathan Lemalu (bass baritone)
Roger Vignoles (piano)

Monday 17 Apr 2006 BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert

Franz Schubert:
Der Wanderer D. 493; Der Wanderer an den Mond D. 870 : An die Leier D. 737: An den Mond D. 193: Rastlose Liebe D. 138: Im Frühling D. 882: Frühlingsglaube D. 686: Auf der Bruck D. 853


Robert Schumann: Märzveilchen Op. 40 No. 1: Muttertraum Op. 40 No. 2: Der Soldat Op. 40 No. 3: Der Spielmann Op. 40 No. 4: Der frohe Wandersmann Op. 77 No. 1: Der Schatzgräber Op. 45 No. 1: Frühlingsfahrt Op. 45 No. 2: Der Einsiedler Op. 83 No. 3

Not so cheerful a programme as the photos might suggest!


But a very fine Lunchtime Concert; less than an hour's music, and no encore, but a satisfying experience well worth journeying to Wigmore Hall again to hear Jonathan Lemalu live, their recital a strong vindication of my opinion that Lemalu ought to have won the Kathleen Ferrier Competition outright in 2002.


He has a huge bass-baritone operatic voice but managed it well for the intimate Wigmore Hall. And he showed himself an experienced Lieder singer, with excellent German.


The programme included but few favourites and explored many more minor poets, Lubeck, Seidl, Bruchmann, Holty, Uhland, with Goethe representaed by Rastlose Liebe. Likewise for Schumann. Four evocative images from Hans Christian Anderson/Chamiso included an unforgettable narration of the soldier detailed to be one of the firing squad to execute his best friend "eight bullets whistled wide of the mark; every man shook with grief - but I, I shot him clean through the heart", and straight on to the fiddler, a jilted lover, who plays gaily enough at the wedding feast "but not as the groom - it's hideous for a man to die this way, when his heart's still young - - ". And last, four Eichendorff songs, The Happy Wanderer who puts his trust in God and the beauties of nature, before the grim pictures of the greedy treasure-seeker who digs down until "stones and rubbles fall in on the fool" with wild mocking laughter replacing the song of angels which died away. Finally the hermit who looks forward to the peace of "an eternal dawn".


Called back again and again by a not-quite capacity Easter Monday audience hoping for something more consoling to help us on our ways, the artists left us to ruminate on the disappointments and shattered hopes which inspired the poets of the time. Yet we went out to the fine spring weather paradoxically enriched by the miseries we had shared, assuaged by the music in which they had been clothed by Schubert and Schumann and conveyed so vividly by the inspiring partnership of Lemalu and Vignoles.


Radio 3 was devoting the Bank Holiday to broadcasting The Ring in its entirety all day for those who stayed indoors, so the broadcast of this recital is deferred until May. Well worth hearing again at home, but too much will be lost unless the BBC can see their way to making the texts, translations and Richard Stokes' notes available to listeners on their website? That ought to become standard practice alongside their making their broadcasts accessible for a week after transmission on Listen Again.

Credit: Alan Dove (Jonathan Lemalu)

© Peter Grahame Woolf