‘Doch meine Saiten tönen/Nur Liebe im Erklingen!’ (‘But my strings sound out only love in their tones!’) sings the bard in Schubert’s An die Leier, the third track on my Disc of the Week. It’s a sentiment which certainly resounds throughout this innovative and warm-hearted collaboration between American baritone Thomas Hampson and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, which places Samuel Barber’s setting of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach alongside eleven songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Wolf in new arrangements for voice and strings by the British composer David Matthews (whose work includes arrangements of Mahler songs in partnership with his brother Colin as well as eight symphonies and thirteen string quartets).
Hampson and the ensemble are old friends (they first worked together in the 1990s, and their projects together have included a chamber version of Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn); the programme was put together for a European concert-tour in spring 2014, and arose from a desire to augment the rather scant repertoire for baritone and ensemble (even Dover Beach, the only work on the disc to include strings in the original scoring, is ‘upscaled’ here from the composer’s setting for voice and string quartet).
The results have immediate appeal and integrity, with the new timbres always enhancing rather than obfuscating the text, and striking a quite wonderful balance between fidelity to the spirit of the originals and little touches of happy anachronism here and there: the wide-open spacing of the chords in the second stanza of the first song (Wolf’s raptly pastoral Auf einer Wanderung, brought to quivering life here with breathless tremolos and surging glissandi) rather put me in mind of Vaughan Williams’s fantasias, whilst elsewhere the writing evokes the atmosphere of Britten’s Simple Symphony and the string serenades of Elgar and Tchaikovsky. The macabre glee of Wolf’s Der Rattenfänger (a distinctly adult incarnation of The Pied Piper) is captured with particular relish, all scurrying pizzicati and wiry sul ponticello (playing near the bridge of the instrument) effects as the itinerant musician-cum-pest-controller (appropriately enough, another string-player!) chases down vermin and erotic conquests alike with wily grace.
Between performances in the title role of Don Giovanni at Teatro alla Scala, Thomas Hampson travels to Prague to sing works by Mahler, Dvořák and more on May 25 with The Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice. Marek Štilec conducts the concert, which also includes selections by Bach, Schubert, and Bodorová. Tickets and additional information are available via TicketPortal.
Che tra i due ci fosse un legame speciale, con molti segreti e bugie, è risaputo. Ma che Leporello fosse il genero di Don Giovanni è un colpo di teatro da far vacillare persino due impudenti quali Mozart e Da Ponte. La sorprendente agnizione si manifesterà sabato sera alla Scala, quando nei due ruoli maschili chiave del titolo mozartiano, che torna con la direzione di Paavo Järvi e nell’edizione ideata da Robert Carsen per il 7 dicembre 2011, troveremo Thomas Hampson e Luca Pisaroni, baritoni di salda fama internazionale, nella vita uniti da Catherine, la bionda figlia di Thomas, che Luca conobbe nel 2003 a Salisburgo.
When did you start singing?
In the crib. Apparently, I was a very vocal baby 😉 … no seriously, I already sang as a child.
Why did you start singing?
I loved tunes and music always made sense to me.
Grande fermento a Milano per il Don Giovanni di Mozart, nella ripresa dell’allestimento di Robert Carsen che aprì la stagione scaligera 2010/2011. A pochi giorni dalla prima del 6 maggio, incontriamo il protagonista Thomas Hampson, artista di fama internazionale, che a coronamento di una lunga e duratura carriera, è al suo debutto operistico alla Scala. Il baritono statunitense ci parla del suo Don Giovanni, di come si diventa un cantante d’opera cosmopolita e del ruolo della musica e dell’arte in questo momento così difficile della storia contemporanea.
Heidelberg. In der Ausgabe vom 27. März forderten wir die Leser auf, auch Fragen an den Bariton und Künstlerischen Leiter der Lied Akademie, Thomas Hampson, zu richten. Aufgrund der vielen Verpflichtungen des Sängers, kam er erst jetzt dazu, sie zu beantworten. Weitergereicht hat sie unser Redakteur Matthias Roth, der auch die Auswahl der Fragen vornahm.
Thomas Hampson returned last night to La Scala, where he has been a regular presence in recital for almost three decades. Extraordinarily, he has never sung an opera in Milan, but next month he will finally make his operatic debut as Don Giovanni. Last night, however, a full theatre was eager to hear him once again in a repertoire that he owns: German song.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.