Classical Music: A voice - and more
Thomas Hampson Wigmore Hall, London
Friday 16 January 1998
Hampson is not just an all-American hunk with a magnificent baritone voice: he's an articulate and literate man who can provide his own programme notes and translations. Introducing the programme he had chosen from amongst Mahler's settings from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, he pointed out that the versions with piano are independent of the orchestral form in which they have become so well known - they are not merely drafts or reductions.
We also know, from piano rolls, how eloquently Mahler himself could project orchestral scores on the keyboard by the sheer force of his imagination. He could certainly play, too, but he made few concessions to the medium, disdaining pianistic wizardry.
It's unusual in a song recital to see the piano lid right up, yet Rieger was in no danger of dominating, and even against the unstinted military flourishes and vigorous tramping of "Revelge", Hampson did not have to force his voice. From the tremendous last line of "Scheiden und Meiden" (Parting and Farewell) to the pianissimo falling octave that closes "Der Schildwache Nachtlied" (The Sentinel's Night-song), two of the less well- known songs Hampson included, he was in perfect control of the widest imaginable range of volume.
He was fearless, too, beginning the evening with the treacherous cuckoo calls of "Ablosung im Sommer" - a spectacularly successful show of vocal confidence that was confirmed in the slow, rapturously ascending phrases of "Ich ging mit Lust". And then he also coloured his voice characterfully - sharply ironic in "Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt" (St Anthony of Padua's Sermon to the Fish), or pitiful in "Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz", the farewell of a deserter about to be executed.
As an encore, Hampson offered a timely tribute to the conductor and outstanding interpreter of Mahler's music, Klaus Tennstedt, whose death had just been announced - a perfect choice in "Liebst du um Schonheit", which he clearly wanted not to be applauded, though the audience couldn't help themselves.
Life & Style blogs
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Fifty years of David Bowie's hairstyles in one animated gif
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Eight-year-old girl Camilla Lisant suggests possible cure for cancer to her scientist father
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
- 1 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£450 per day: Ashdown Group: HR Systems Project Manager - Surrey - up to £450 ...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An excellent opportunity ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administra...