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Clara

by on 28 July 2019

Kräftig mit Humor

Clara

by Robert and Clara Schumann

All Saints Church, Isleworth, 20th July

A review by Helen Astrid

Mezzo-soprano Sandra Porter and pianist Graeme McNaught’s recital of music by Robert and Clara Schumann was a captivating performance.

Sandra’s opening ‘Frauenliebe und Leben’, Op. 42, relates the tale of a woman’s marriage, motherhood and widowhood. This romantic song cycle of eight lieder was written in 1840, and it is interesting to note that prior to this, Schumann wrote almost exclusively for the piano.

clara-wieck-schumann-2

It was an accomplished, striking and sensitively executed performance. Heart-stopping moments in ‘Süsser Freund’ and the poignant final lied, ‘Nun haßt du mir den ersten Schmerz getan’ left us wanting to hear it all again.

Joined by celebrated musicians Robert Gibbs (violin) and John Rogers (viola), the performers gave a cheekily playful rendition of Schumann’s Trio in G Minor, Op. 110. Kräftig mit Humor it certainly had!

The highlight, though, was Sally Beamish’s soliloquy ‘Clara’, written for Sandra in 1995; a clever commentary on the Schumann song cycle we had heard earlier, with playful melodic and rhythmic references. Its Bergian-like proportions took us somewhere else entirely.

In the words of the composer, ‘the vocal line moves from a childlike simplicity for Clara’s early years to a more complex, passionate expression’. Sandra’s performance was indeed that. Masterful.

Helen Astrid
July 2019

Photography by Lucia Calcini

From → Music

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  1. Clara: Sex, Love and Classical Music | Mark Aspen

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