Songs in four languages from the nineteenth-century and, Schubert apart, by composers generally better known for other musical genres.
Louise Alder has an extraordinarily relaxed and attuned relationship with Gary Matthewman, allowing each to shine. She brought wonderful tonal variety, a sense of drama and playfulness and real technical assurance, whilst he relished all the showy or descriptive qualities of the accompaniments.The recital commenced with Schubert, the piano providing the propulsive whirling of Gretchen’s loom in Gretchen am Spinnrade whilst Alder found just the right tints of anguish for Goethe’s betrayed heroine, culminating in an intense recollection of Faust’s kiss. In Nacht und Träume the duo evoked mystery and nocturnal quiet, Alder being cleverly sparing in her use of vibrato, and they brought out the similarities and contrasts of Mendelssohn’s Der Mond, while in Die Forelle the watery cascades and eddies of the stream in which Schubert and Schubart’s trout is playing before being caught on the angler’s line were beautifully evoked by Matthewman.
A slight skittishness imbued Alder’s interpretation of the Elven procession in Mendelssohn’s Neue Liebe – until the queen smiled on the observer, bringing her enchantment to a distinctly nervy conclusion. Mendelssohn’s sister Fanny Hensel (she published under her married name) wrote the next three settings; all rather subtle in their evocation of mood and yet full of the big themes of Nature and Love, not least describing migrating birds (with undertones of human romance), sung with attractive abandon. Of the five songs by Liszt, Oh Lieb, so lang du lieben kannst was the emotional core of the recital, raptly intense and with Matthewman casting a wonderful sense of the improvisatory in the concluding bars evoking uncertainty and hope.
Alder was very impressive with the Polish language in the two numbers by Chopin, both set to infectious mazurka rhythms, and the programme ended with a dazzling account of Rossini’s Canzonetta spagnuola, with Matthewman ratcheting up the tempo a notch for each verse, Alder responding with astoundingly precise trills, turns and agility.
- Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards)
- BBC Proms www.bbc.co.uk/proms