16 August 2018

Discovering Schubert

Despite their reputation, I hadn't warmed to Schubert's songs before but this was different. Australian Haydn Ensemble came to town with guest singer David Greco. The ensemble was restructured at the short notice after a death in the family meant leader and first violinist Skye couldn't make it. Simone moved from second to first violin and Rafael sat in on second. Otherwise the team was James and James and Jacqueline. The program also changed with mostly alternating Schubert songs and miniature string quartets from The Four Seasons by Felicien David. FD was also new to me but generally much more light and joyous than the Schubert. The whole was presented as a single set with no interval and with discussions and translations of Schubert's songs ad backgrounds by David. Delightfully and unexpectedly, the concert went off with no applause until the end. This was a pleasure. I've come to dislike clapping for jazz solos and the response here was blissfully uninterrupted. It may leave the performers a little lost between tunes but it carries the flow of music purposefully. The playing was neat and involved as always. Jacqueline was solidly tested in a later song, the famed Der Erlkonig, but her presence was rich and full throughout. So were the others. I wondered about balance at one time as passages passed between strings, but it's relatively trivial, and the commitment, especially from Simone, was captivating. David's interpretations were stunners, with big, rich voice, clear enunciation (although given that it's German, I didn't catch much anyway) and emotive, even dramatic, presentation. His tonal formation was to die for. My choir does nothing of the sort: I'd love to hear the choirs he's appointed to, given this sample (Westminster Abbey and Sistine Chapel, no less!). It was a short program given the last-minute changes but deeply satisfying so the repertoire change was no disappointment and it taught me the impressiveness of this Schubert song repertoire. So, it went well. Our condolences to Skye.

David Greco (baritone) sang with the Australian Haydn Ensemble at ANU University House. Tonight AHE comprised Simone Slattery and Rafael Font (violins), James Eccles (viola), James Bush (cello) and Jacqueline Dossor (bass).

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