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Schubert, Brahms, Wolf & Duparc
Angelika Kirchschlager with Helmut Deutsch Wigmore Hall 7.30 p.m. 27 March 2003

Haydn & Brahms
The Vanbrugh Quartet Purcell Room 1.05 p.m. 27 March 2003

An Silvia D891
Das Rosenband D280
Die Gebüsche D646
Lied des Florio D857 no 2
Bei dir allein D866 no 2
Wehmut D772
Du bist die Ruh D776
Im Frühling D882


Von waldbekränzter Höhe op 57 no 1
Wenn du nur zuweilen lächelst op 57 no 2
Es träumte mir, ich sei dir teuer op 57 no 3
Ach, wende diesen Blick op 57 no 4
Unbewegte laue Luft op 57 no 8



Der Knabe und das Immlein
Wolf Ein Stündlein wohl vor Tag
Wolf Nimmersatte Liebe
Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens
Das verlassene Mägdlein
Lebe wohl

L'invitation au voyage
La vie antérieure
Chanson triste


Celebrated in London for her assumption of the dramatic central role in Maw's controversial opera, the sprawling Sophie's Choice (which I found myself unable to admire whether at ROH or on video - (q.v. 'this long, messy opera') Angelika Kirchschlager's sold out Wigmore Hall recital gave unalloyed, uncomplicated pleasure in a programme of lieder favourites, and several of Duparc's melodies. She is a beautiful woman with a beautiful, characterful mezzo voice, notably relaxed and comfortable on the recital platform which she made her own, taking the audience to right and left into her confidence with free movements and expansive but unexaggerated gesture.

The popular programme, prepared impeccably with her famous accompanist Helmut Deutsch, was an evening of relaxing enjoyment, not one for new insights. I use the term 'accompanist', which latterly has a pejorative connotation, advisedly. Although the lid was fully open, which I always prefer, Deutsch was generally reticent, the tone shaded perfectly, but within an overall style of playing too legato for my taste.

For us, it was all just a shade too safe and comfortable; no tension between the two musicians, no sense of danger in one of the few of Wolf's more testing songs included, its epilogue despatched by Helmut Deutsch with disarming ease. The Mörike group made less of an impression than those given in the recent Mörike day at Wigmore Hall, but if this recital is preparatory for a projected CD, it should be a successful one.

The Vanbrugh Quartet
Haydn - Quartet No.2 in F, Op.77: Brahms - Quartet No.3 in B flat, Op.67

Those niggling reservations during the evening arose in the context of an earlier recital that day, given to a well filled Purcell Room audience by The RTE Vanbrugh Quartet, resident quartet to Radio Telefis Eireann, very active in Cork and internationally since they won the London International String Quartet Competition in 1988.

Nothing unusual to attract the critics to their programme, nor did their playing have any attention-grabbing features, whether heightened energy or interpretative quirks to establish individuality.

It was just very, very good, as we have noted previously with the Vanbrughs' appearances at South Place, and which is confirmed by their CDs. Technique is rock-solid as is ensemble and, although they will have played these standard classics often, there was an indefinable freshness, without any suggestion of routine repetition; the secret must lie in good relationships between the players, who looked as if they were quietly enjoying a good time as we were.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Hear the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet at the Spitalfields Festival 18 June (programme) playing Haydn, Beethoven and a premiere by Jonathan Dove, Artistic Director of the Festival, at the wholly delightful Wilton's Music Hall, which will be the base for the second week of the festival.


© Peter Grahame Woolf