Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Un samedi aprèsm

Poems for Piano and Voice by Hugo Wolf, Théâtre Athénée - Paris, October 23 2010

Shigeko Hata and Edwin Crossley-Mercer

Happy to be back to this "jewlery box" theater. Already the little square hosting the entrance to this theater looks very parisianly chic

but when you enter this little theater you feel like visiting a museum.

You need to see its auditorium to actually realize that you're in a theater that proposes a 'modern' and well assorted program of events.

This year I already enjoyed two chamber operas at Athénée, Julie and In the Penal Colony. This time I went when I saw the name of Edwin Crossley-Mercer whose Winterreise was one of the the best recitals I've attended this year.

This time he shared his recital-time with a young soprano,  Shigeko Hata, and the recital was a collection of songs by Hugo Wolf. This concert was actually the first in the series organized by the Royaumont Foundation.

So, in the first part  Shigeko Hata, accompanied by Karolos Zouganelis on piano, came up with a generous program of songs by Wolf: excerpts from Goethe Lieder [Die Spröde, Die Bekehrte, Frühling übers Jahr], and from Mörike Lieder [Im Frühling, Er ist's, Auf eine Christblume, Erstes Liebeslied eines Madchens, Ein Stündlein wohl vor Tag, Das verlassene Mädglein, Agnes, Lied vom Winde].

She actually did a good job but the difference showed when Edwin Crossley-Mercer came up  [together with Michaël Guido on piano]. His perfect German pronunciation, that long breath and that way to tell the story while singing, is a rarity among singers of his generation. He went on with excerpts from the Mörike Lieder [Auf einer Wanderlung, Fussreise, Auf ein altes Bild, Verborgenheit, Denk'es O Seele, Der Jäger, Nimmersatte Liebe, Feuerreiter, Elfenlied], and then added three songs from the opus Goethe Lieder by Ferruccio Busoni [Lied des Brander, Lied des Mephistopheles, Zigeunerlied]

Those last three songs were the highlight of this concert.
They allowed Crossley-Mercer to fully display his interpretative skills and also to remind us that Ferruccio Busoni is unjustly neglected wrt his contemporary, Giacomo Pucconi. Too bad they organized the concert too early for Parisians to fill the auditorium...


  1. I have immense pleasure in learning, thanks to your splendid summary of the Saturday afternoon recital at the Athénée, of the successful event. The photographs of the location and the artistes are equally pleasing.
    Thank you very much indeed. It is true that this young man can certainly "spin" an enthralling tale or two, embodying and projecting the sentiments contained in them. Mr Guido was a first-rate accompanist for him, whilst the Greek pianist is of the highest calibre for a lady like Shigeko Hata.
    "Selling" Wolf is by no means as easy as presenting Schubert. Understanding the urgency of the situation for exemple in Feuerreiter and the mill on fire, is an essential component for a comprehensive appreciation of the emergency.
    I was not one among the fortunate attendees, but am thrilled that everything went so well.
    With renewed thanks,


  2. Funny, just yesterday we were talking about this man, but couldn't come up with the name anymore. Very practically you answered that question for us with this report :).
    That's what I like about classical music among other things - it is so international!
    I am surprised that you gave Rusalka in Muc a miss, though -- I think you would have liked it.

  3. I'm sure I would.
    Can't see them all :(

  4. "Les Feuilles Mortes" in Saint Petersburg in July. The concert was one on French Romance and it was very good indeed.
    At least I think so.