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 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.
Sarah Willis begegnet dem amerikanischen Opernsänger Thomas Hampson in Heidelberg. Der Bariton ist künstlerische Leiter der Lied Akademie und tritt mit seinen Stipendiaten beim Festival Heidelberger Frühling auf: Sarah’s Music
Thomas Hampson hatte nur vier Stunden Schlaf. Aber er will nicht klagen, würde es wahrscheinlich sogar vermissen, wäre sein Terminkalender nicht mehr derart prall gefüllt. In Heidelberg leitet der Bariton die Liedakademie des “Frühlings”. Aber zwischendurch musste er kurz nach Wien und mit dem Sänger Luca Pisaroni (der sein Schwiegersohn ist) ein Konzert geben. Tenöre waren auf der Bühne nicht erlaubt – das ist schon mal ein Unterschied zur Heidelberger Liedakademie.
This season, audiences in Milan have the opportunity to see Thomas Hampson in performance several times on stage at the historic Teatro alla Scala. On April 13 he and pianist Wolfram Rieger present Schumann’s 20 Lieder und Gesänge op. 29 and songs by Mahler for an extraordinary programme at La Scala. To purchase tickets & read additional information about this event, visit the following link.
On April 3, Thomas Hampson and bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni bring their famed “No Tenors Allowed” concert to the Wiener Konzerthaus. The event is featured as part of the “Great Voices” series, hosted in the Great Hall. Mr. Hampson and Mr. Pisaroni are joined by conductor Pavel Baleff and the Max Steiner Orchestra for the programme, which includes selections by Mozart, Verdi, and more. Please note an extremely limited number of tickets remain; visit Konzerthaus.at for current availability.
This spring, Thomas Hampson returns to Heidelberg for a series of master classes, in addition to a concert, all part of the Heidelberger Frühling International Music Festival. The series is presented in partnership with the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Mr. Hampson leads master classes on the following dates, hosted at the Kongresshaus Stadthalle Heidelberg: March 30 & 31 and April 1, 4 & 5. Tickets to the individual classes are available, in addition to a Festival Pass which covers all dates – the Pass can be purchased here.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.