Feb 23, 2017
As readers of last week’s newsletter will be aware, Thomas Hampson’s Tides of Life (in which the American baritone joins forces with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta in lieder by Wolf, Schumann, Brahms and Schubert, arranged for voice and string ensemble by David Matthews) has been receiving a significant amount of air-time in the Presto editorial office over the past month; in my review of the disc last Friday, I promised an interview with the man himself, and here it is! We’re very grateful to Mr Hampson for taking time out of rehearsals for La traviata at the Met (which opens tomorrow, with Sonya Yoncheva and Michael Fabiano as Violetta and Alfredo) to talk to us about his long-term friendship with the Amsterdam players, the themes at the heart of the programme and the pleasures of revisiting these songs in their new ‘clothing’!
How did you settle on which songs to have arranged? Did you have a particular theme in mind for the disc, or was it more a case of the piano parts of these particular songs leaping out as being especially suitable for strings?
I’m happy to say that the collaboration with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta on all of our projects is one of mutual fascination, trust, and unencumbered collaboration. At the outset, the Brahms songs, and the Barber string quartet/string ensemble were the givens. As we decided to do a large group of Schubert and Wolf songs, my concentration was particularly on variety of moods, however in a kind of wondering reflective atmosphere, and of course a musical and poetic agogik that I felt particularly enhanced by a string ensemble versus piano. We came up with the title of the album much later, but in retrospect it would seem that our mutual desire for this project was one of embracing life’s myriad moments of reflection, whether profound, euphoric, or simply observational.
Following on from that, was it a deliberate decision to include songs which make references to strings and string-players: Der Rattenfänger and An die Leier?
It was not a conscious decision, but an interesting observation on your part. It certainly didn’t hurt, and probably was not lost on our public.
What was behind the decision to add upper voices to Ständchen (one of our favourite tracks in the Presto office!)?
The inclusion of the girls’ choir for the Schubert extension came from a concert we did at the Concertgebouw for their sponsors and patrons and specifically celebrating youth in music. Simon Reinink, the director of the Concertgebouw, had the idea to invite this marvelous choir, and as I was asked about the piece I was glad to confirm I had sung it with the Vienna boys’ choir at one time and found it a wonderful idea for a young girls’ choir. That we later included them in a couple of our public programs and added them to our CD project just seemed a very natural and wonderful idea. I’m glad you liked it.
Katherine Cooper – Presto Classical
Thomas Hampson returns to the Verbier Festival this month as a Verbier Academy Faculty member, presenting a series of Masterclasses. Focused on specific topics in singing, these Masterclasses will take place on July 21 & 22 (Opera) and July 23 & 24 (Lied/Art Song). The classes are open to the public – visit VerbierFestival.com for detailed programme information.
Thomas Hampson is a featured contributor to the newly launched platform MUSAIC, from the New World Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Hampson and other acclaimed artists, including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, are featured in various site content including master classes, interviews, and more. Watch and learn today at musaic.nws.edu!
On July 8, Thomas Hampson is a featured artist in an Opera Gala concert, hosted at the Opernhaus Düsseldorf. This special annual event, presented by the Friends of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, includes the talents of the Duisburger Philharmoniker and Deutsche Oper am Rhein chorus, led by Axel Kober. Other soloists for the evening are Lavinia Dames, Luiza Fatyol, and Maria Kataeva, on a programme that includes operatic highlights by Rossini, Mozart, Verdi, and more. A limited number of seats remain for this extraordinary summer concert – purchase your tickets at the following link!
Mr. Hampson sings a recital as part of the Munich Festspiel on June 28. Accompanied by pianist Wolfram Rieger, the Mahler cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn will be performed in its entirety. Composed at the turn of the century, Mahler set this collection of anonymous German folk poems to music, originally written for either soprano or baritone. Mr. Hampson and Mr. Rieger are well-known for their interpretation of this cycle, and have performed it numerous times together in premiere international venues. For example, the pair interpreted the cycle in 2002 in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet, which can be viewed via YouTube. A few years later, Mr. Hampson discussed the importance of the cycle as an Artist-in-Residence with the New York Philharmonic in this discussion.
Hampson and Rieger’s upcoming performance will be held at the Nationaltheater, in the heart of Munich.
On June 16, 17 & 18, Thomas Hampson is the featured soloist with the Orquesta Nacional de España, under the direction of David Afkham. The concert programme is titled “The Origin of the Future” and highlights selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn as well as Schoenberg’s Pelleas et Melisande, Op. 5. Tickets: ocne.mcu.es/programacion/el-origen-del-futuro
This summer, Thomas Hampson and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni reunite for their acclaimed “No Tenors Allowed” programme. They perform with the Gewandhausorchester at the Open Air-Bühne im Rosental on June 23 & 24 under the baton of Alexander Shelley. The programme includes selections by Rossini, Mozart, Massenet, Gounod, and more.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.