Claire Seymour, Opera Today
Bevan and Drake travel to 1840s Leipzig
Julius Drake must have had had a lot of fun compiling this lieder programme, which was inspired by a visit to the home of Robert and Clara Schumann on Inselstraße in Leipzig. The couple lived in this classical building during the 1840s and the visitors’ book reads like a roll call of the greatest Romantic artists – composers, poets, performers – of the day.
With such a cornucopia of lieder from which to choose, one wonders how Drake settled upon his selections. Certainly, one could discern distinctive musical ‘voices’, and it was interesting to hear Clara Schumann’s gentle melodising beside Chopin’s folk-tinted melancholy, or Liszt’s blending of fervent human passion and reverent spirituality. And, as the lieder weaved from German to Polish and back again, with diversions into French and even English, a truly international conversation unfolded. But, there was variety of expressive range within the song-quartets, too. Moreover, Bevan had remarked that many of these songs were new to her, and many were also new to me and so the programme offered numerous fresh discoveries and delights.