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
Beginning the new season, Thomas Hampson returns to Opéra national de Paris to star as Graf Danilo Danilowitsch in Lehar’s ever-popular Die lustige Witwe (“The Merry Widow”). He sings the role September 9 – October 21, with a sparkling cast including Véronique Gens as Hanna Glawari, Valentina Naforniţa as Valencienne, and Stephen Costello as Camille de Rosillon. Conductors Jakub Hrůša and
Marius Stieghorst alternate performances, with a production staged by Jorge Lavelli.
With “Serenade,” his first album exclusively dedicated to French song, Mr. Hampson brings his passion for works by French opera composers to the Pentatone label. Curated with the French Literature scholar Sylvain Fort and in a first collaboration with the Polish pianist Maciej Pikulski, the track listing includes romantic and introspective as well as humorous selections by Bizet, Chabrier, Chausson, Gounod, Magnard, Massenet, and Saint-Saëns, featuring texts written by some of France’s most revered writers including Victor Hugo, Paul Verlaine, Rosemonde Gérard, and others.
For more information about this CD, visit Mr. Hampson’s discography.
This recording is available exclusively from Pentatone’s website.
Thomas Hampson continues his summer season in Europe this month, as the featured soloist in two Gala Concerts in Germany. Mr. Hampson travels to Bremen to sing with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and conductor David Marlow at Knoops Park on August 11, part of the annual “Summer in Lesmona” Festival at the park. He follows this engagement with another Gala Festival Concert, this time with the Staatsorchester Hannover at the Staatsoper Hannover Opernhaus. The performance, hosted on August 19, features both Ivan Repušić and Mark Rohde leading from the podium, with a roster of more than 15 soloists from the company. Klaus Angermann hosts the evening, with proceeds benefitting the Staatsoper Hannover Foundation and its education programs. Works featured will preview the company’s upcoming 2017/18 season in arias, ensembles, and solo orchestral selections.
The critically lauded Deutsche Grammophon release of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, starring Thomas Hampson in a “wondrous” and “moving” (Online-Merker) portrayal of Count Almaviva, has been honored as the 2017 ECHO Klassik Award-winner in the “Best Opera Recording” (works up to or through the 17th/18th century) category. The album features a phenomenal roster of talent, including Mr. Hampson’s son-in-law Luca Pisaroni in the title role and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, all conducted by Maestro Yannick Nezet-Seguin. The ECHO Klassik Awards Gala takes place on October 29 at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg; tickets and more info can be found at ECHOKlassik.de.
Naxos has released a DVD recording of Verdi’s La Traviata, with an all-star cast featuring Marina Rebeka as Violetta Valéry, Francesco Demuro as Alfredo Germont and Thomas Hampson as his father, Giorgio Germont. Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson is at the podium, leading the NDR Radiophilharmonie.
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.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.