Liederabend | Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam | March 2012

The 1001 tone colours of Schwanewilms

(…) The dress was a little Marschallin-esque, but when the soprano took the stage last Saturday, it became very clear soon that this was not the opera singer, but the “other” Schwanewilms, that of the song. (…)

The first three songs from Mahler’s ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ were of the light genre. (…) Anne Schwanewilms chose a colourful, almost cabaret-like approach. “A play with many parts” was the subtitle of this evening. Mahler was followed by Franz Liszt’s songs on texts by Hugo, Schiller and Heine: a very different tonal language. (…). From the subtle musicality of Mahler we came to unadulterated drama in Liszt’s ‘The Hunter of theAlps’, a mini-opera for soprano and piano. In the story of the ‘Lorelei’ (Liszt / Heine), everything came together before the interval: surefire singing, the beauty of sound and well apportioned drama. (…)

The emphasis shifted from humorous to ironic with the ‘Wunderhorn’ songs after the break. Musically this was even more challenging and enabled the singer not only to show her power of style and expression but also her absolute accuracy in the vocal heights. (…) Vigorous heights, delicate tone even in long held notes: Schwanewilms gave the 1001 tone colours with a fascinating combination of technique and musicality. (…)

Accompanist Charles Spencer had a nearly independent role, musically. Mahler’s songs are at times more like a double concerto for piano and vocals. The extended intro of ‘Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen’, with the allure of a piano sonata, gave Spencer every chance to show his ability. (…)

With the five Rückert-Lieder, the evening ended. Gone was the cabaret, here we heard spirituality and the central questions of life in text and music.” (…)

Francois van den Anker, 5 March 2012