blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Viola and song

A concert at the Tabaret Hall last week combined piano (Jean Desmarais), viola (Nicolò Eugelmi) and mezzo soprano (Donna Brown). It started with Two Pieces for Viola and Piano by Frank Bridge, the second one romantic with arpeggios in the accompaniment and chromatic modulations.  Then we heard three songs by Edvard Grieg, sung in German. Gruss was a Frühlingslied, and in contrast, Dereinst, Gedanke mein seemed to be a song of mourning, akin to Åses død in the Peer Gynt Suite, with a nice portamento from Ms Brown on the line "... und ohne Pein wirst ruhig sein." The third song was a coy little lovesong, Lauf der Welt, which, according to the lyrics, ought to be sung by a man:
...Ich weiß nicht, wie es so geschah, /Seit lange küss' ich sie, / Ich bitte nicht, sie sagt nicht: ja! / Doch sagt sie: nein! auch nie...
Two songs by Brahms (op 91) followed, with viola obligato as well as the piano accompaniment. In Gestillte Sehnsucht the soprano sings about the golden light of evening, the viola having the first section to itself, and then we heard the Geistliches Wiegenlied, with the viola quoting the Christmas carol Joseph lieber, Joseph mein. Each verse of Brahms' lullaby finishes with the gently descending line "Es schlummert mein Kind."

The last item, in contrast to the romantic sounds we'd heard, was Shostakovich's last work of 1975, his long Sonata for Viola and Piano, which unfortunately had to contend with the noise from the construction team outside the building working on a big hole in the ground. At least, in the quieter moments, the intrusive hum of their equipment was in approximately the same key! The Adagio final movement, deliberately composed in memory of Beethoven, has clear references to the Moonlight Sonata but, this being Shostakovich, his evocation of moonlight is a good deal darker than the moonlight of Beethoven's time.

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