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Nina Stemme soprano/Benedicte Haid piano

Wigmore Hall 8 March 2006


Grieg: Varan Op 33 No 2; Fra Monte Pincio Op 39 No 1; En svane Op 25 No 2; Horer jeg sangen klinge Op 39 No 1; Soveigs vuggevise from “Peer Gynt”; Med en vandlilie OP 25 No 4

Strauss: - Standchen Op 17 No 2; Allerseelen Op 10 No 8; Befreit Op 39 No 4; Morgen Op27 No 4; Cacilie Op 27 No 2

Nystroem; – Sanger vid havet

Wagner:- Wesendonck Lieder


Nina Stemme is blessed with an enormous voice and she certainly knows how to use and control it.  Her presentation of each song was carefully planned without it in any way appearing contrived, at once grasping the essence of the poem and communicating it to her audience.  Benedicte Haid's contribution was also significant, unfussy, but totally involved.


She began with Grieg, and a varied selection of songs. The first matched the unfamiliar cadences of landsmol Norwegian with a series of simple chords on the piano. In her second, describing Rome at twilight, there were several skilfully handled changes of pace as dance rhythms encroached on the soliloquy. You can't go far with Grieg's songs without Ibsen's poetry cropping up, and sure enough here were three examples, as much showpieces for the piano as for the voice. En svane was the finest, Stemme simply lived the dying swan's lovely song whilst the piano provided the water rippling all around.


Next a selection from Richard Strauss favourites that crop up time and again, but tonight's interpretations were exceptional.


Back to Sweden after the interval, and relatively modern songs by Gosta Nystroem. A busy man, writer of much film music and an acclaimed painter, well known as an artist as well as a composer, his life was dominated by the sea.He lived all his life on the coast and was deeply influenced by the sea. His illustrated memoirsAll I remember is Lust and Light” provide an interesting insight into his music. I really enjoyed Nystroem's rather austere but emotionally charged songs.


The recital reached its c lima x with Wagner's supreme Wesendonck Lieder . Demonstrating consummate artistry, Stemme gave the impression of merely opening her mouth and letting the passion swell out. Certainly the atmosphere in the Hall became highly charged and the audience was left in rapturous silence for several minutes at the end.


Serena Fenwick

© Peter Grahame Woolf