Saturday, August 8, 2009


Mooching around the internet I stumbled onto a few bits and pieces that give a bit of an edge to some speculation.

Stuart Skelton scheduled for Das Lied von der Erde with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in May 2010 with Ashkenazy. He has sung it to considerable acclaim: 2004 Frankfurt (Harding), 2005 St Louis Symphony (Robertson) at home and New York with Michelle de Young and 2007 San Franscisco (Tilson-Thomas) with baritone Thomas Hampson. That review is a Skelton-fans must read.

At last, and about time. Have we heard it since 1990 with Stuart Challender and Elizabeth Campbell? So the question is who will be the other soloist, female I hope. Could we dream of warm voice from cold Finland, our Ashkenazy Gerontius Angel. Oh happy dream. She is singing it in February in Paris. Dear god of programming, hear my prayer. It will then be all up to Mr Ashkenazy, and if there's a high bar around, this Mahler is it. 

I seem more and more to be croaking on about the past, and here we go again. My first ever exposure to Mahler was DLVDE, Sydney Town Hall, probably late 60's, and here she is, as she was then, the most beautiful contralto I have ever heard:

Yes, you can.

Something else has appeared on the horizon. The Gondwana Voices will join the Sydney Children's Choir and Sydney Philharmonia Choir for a large vocal masterpiece for the SSO 2010 Gala Opening with Ashkenazy. Sounds good to me, and will probably keep the 2009 Opening whingers happier. Well, Mahler's 8th comes to mind, and coincidentally Askenazy will be opening the New Zealand International Arts Festival in February with ... Mahler's 8th. 

Remember the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival opened with Mahler's 8th? Remember (honk-if-you-haven't-been-married-to) Edo? Who, besides the Mahler, also brings to mind the Berlioz Te Deum. Remember the Te Deum? That's a large vocal masterpiece. And yes I was at the recording session, Queen Mother's Birthday 2000, and 'don't ask don't tell' is the policy which covers that episode.



Anonymous said...

Having not had the opportunity to hear Yvonne Minton live, I was excited to see this post.

Not to be instantly negative, but there is quite a lot of slightly "out of tune" singing, and lots of straight tone at the beginnings of phrases.

Of course, as a contralto, the top of the voice (where the tuning goes a little wacky) was always going to be the hardest part.

To my mind, Contraltos are miscast in this work. Although there are a few low lying sections for the Mezzo/Bartione, e.g: "ich suche ruhe, ruhe fuer mein einsames Herz" and "ich hab erquickungs Not", the majority of the work really lies in the middle and upper middle of the range, and is best served by casting a large voiced mezzo who, if serendipity allows, is able to float some of the passaggio work.

My ideal casting would have to be James King and Christa Ludwig, although I don't think that ever actually happened. King was paired with Dame Janet and Ludwig with Wunderlich.

WANDERER said...

Anon thanks for dropping by and staying to comment. I'm afraid it is all my fault - Minton is really a true mezzo though often noted as a contralto because of a deep chest voice but she extended up to B-flat/B with ease and no loss of beauty. One of her finest stage roles was Octavian, the only other time I heard her live, on home turf.

I have just relistened to the Ludwig Der Abschied and for all her elegance it just doesn't move me. My attachment to the Solti DLVDE is unashamedly emotive, revolving around Minton whose voice I find incredibly warm and infused with an understanding and kindness from some other space and she breaks me up every time.

It's hard to leave Ferrier out of ideal casting. I haven't heard the Urmana/Schade/Boulez but it tops the list for some.

Some notes on YM are here