Flashes of the best romanticism

Lieder de Schubert and Schumann. Christoph Prégardien, tenor. Julius Drake, piano. XXVI Lied cycle. Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madris, 2-XII-2019.

This German tenor born in 1956 has been working in the world of lied and opera in years and years. Recently he has begun to take the tackle of directing, with which he has already shown signs of his willingness. On this occasion he designed an ambitious and beautiful program that brought together nine Schubert lieder on texts by Ernst Schulze and the twelve that constitute the cycle “Liederkreis op. 39 ”by Schumann, in all of which he has shown his recognized and recognizable ways of pro pro. Although already with some other limitation, rather than showing a singing style based on a pleasant voice of lyrical-light tenor, perhaps more than that, of good pasta, but free of authentic brightness, of "squillo", of passing emission nasal and quite short extension.

The highest notes, within a generally comfortable position in almost all songs, not beyond a fa 3, and the most uncomfortable phrases, must already be attacked in falsetto or "falsettone", procedures that have always been of the predilection of this tenor, as they are that of other current colleagues. But, as far as possible, Prégardien, sings by right, rather than supported by a rather cautious, prudent temperament, without fuss or dangerous demonstrations. The nine lieder with Schulze de Schubert's poems have been a good example of that shortage of means and that lack of temperament, so that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish a dramatic lied from a nostalgic or specifically lyrical one.

That is so, which does not mean that the singer did not produce phrases and accents of exquisite musicality supported by the magnificent accompaniment - rather collaboration - of the excellent and chameleonic Julius Drake, although exhibiting a monochromatic attitude of apparent lack of drama, something put already manifested in "Auf der Bruck". He adequately delineated the melismatic features of "Um Mitternacht" and clarified how many times "Im Frühling" is commanded. It was in the wild and impetuous "Über Wildemann" where he showed more his courtesy and his lack of dramatic vein, which wasted from the Drake piano.

Everything changed for the better in the second part. Schumann's songs, shorter and more direct, more contrasted with each other, seemed to marry to a greater extent with the ways and ways of the tenor, which was more comfortable, more loose and expressive, although with the same vocal problems. We applaud the sovereign diction and the well-marked chiaroscuro, including certain drops of emotion in "Schöne Fremde" and the delicacy with it, somewhat melifluously, the famous "Mondnacht". Three Schubertian tips crowned a session that the audience liked very much: "Ständchen", the famous "Serenade" of the "Swan Song", beautifully phrased, "Nacht und Träume", delineated, and "Der Musensohn", sung with little spirit , little briskly.


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