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Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak and Strauss

Edita Gruberova – soprano
Stephan Matthias Lademann – piano
Andrew Marriner - clarinet

Mozart:  Als Luise die Briefe; Das Veilchen; Oiseaux, si tous les ans; Dans un bois solitaire; Ridente la calma; Un moto di gioia
Schubert:  Der Jungling an der Quelle; Der Fluss; Im Haine; Lied der Mignon Nos 2-4; An Silvia; Gretchen am Spinnrade; Der Hirt auf dem Felsen
Dvorak:  Pisne milostne
Strauss:  Die Nacht; Allerseelen; Ich wollt' ein Sträusslein binden; Zueignung
Dell’Acqua:  Villanelle (Encore)
Donizetti:  Recitative & Cavatina from “Linda di Chamonix” (Encore)

Wigmore Hall, 20 March 2008

A debut recital at the Wigmore Hall is always an important occasion, but when it is one that has been as long awaited as this one, it has a special significance. 

Edita Gruberova made her stage debut in 1968 and since then she has scaled the heights of the coloratura soprano repertoire in opera houses throughout the world. I count myself fortunate to have seen her Lucia (Vienna, 1984), her Linda di Chamonix (Zurich, 1996) and her Elizabeth I (Roberto Devereux, Zurich 1997).

Nor has she neglected the lieder repertoire. Gruberova has a noteworthy discography of art songs in a variety of languages. 

Of course a certain amount of water has flowed under the bridge during this career, and it would no longer have been realistic to expect to hear a voice with the freshness of youth. What we did hear was a singer with a total command of technique and respect for the meaning of the words and music she was singing, not only in delivering crystal clear diction, but by interpreting their meaning in colour, tone and inflection.

She opened her recital conventionally enough, with Mozart writing in a trio of languages, but she kept us in suspense until the third song before she unveiled the brilliance and clarity and the top of the register that has been the hallmark of her performances.

Next a “set” from Schubert, mixing the relatively unfamiliar Der Jungling an der Quelle with well known pieces such as An Sylvia.   The clarinettist, Andrew Marriner, joined her on the platform to bring the first half of the evening to a conclusion with a lyrical performance of The Shepherd on the Rock.

After the interval came Dvorak, with the eight love songs that make up his Opus 83.  Each has its own individual mood, and they were given tender, atmospheric treatment.   Pianist Stephen Matthias Lademann proved himself sympathetic and supportive accompanist and a fine musician in his own right.

The songs of Richard Strauss, with which Gruberova’s name is particularly associated, provided the official finale.  There was an un-announced change of programme, with In goldner Fulle being dropped in favour of Ich wollt' ein Sträusslein binden, but the well known favourites Allerseelen and Zueignung were both present, in as near perfection as one could wish.

Rapturous applause followed, and the evening was not over. For encores, Eva Dell’Acqua’s Vilanelle, something of a showpiece and a Gruberova favourite (it is included in the recording of her 25th Anniversary concert in Japan – Nightingale NC 090560-2), and finally the incredibly testing coloratura highlight of Linda di Chamonix’s O luce di quest’anima.  An amazing end to a recital well worth waiting for and more demonstrable proof that a once matchless voice retains its magic. 

Serena Fenwick

For Gruberova in a highly recommendable newly released DVD film of Arabella (1977) see http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd08/StraussArabellaJanowitzSoltiSchenk.html