Saturday, April 7, 2018


(warm summer's evening)

When Anne Sofie von Otter's husband died suddenly in Sydney days before her scheduled appearances with the SSO, it was especially shocking. We had cancelled going down to Adelaide for her recital there at the last minute anticipating the imminent death of close family here in Sydney, which did overtake us, and in this grief we felt even the more for her, so tragically robbed of her marriage, a state we ourselves were closely approaching.

In lieu, Stuart Skelton graciously and generously flew across from Perth, and back again, then back and back again, and the programme changed to German songs for voice and piano.

In the Uber on the way in for this, on a warm summer Friday evening, news came of another death, my brother in law in Darwin, a welcome but grossly disturbing relief from the terror of premature vascular dementia. We now faced two funerals, and headed into the house in sombre mood.

That Donald Runnicles spoke at some length about the Mahler 10 that was to follow after interval before Skelton entered the concert platform was slightly disconcerting, as if Mr Skelton was stuck in a cab in Macquarie Street. It was however more to do with balancing the two concert halves I gather. Finally onto an empty stage save the piano and Runnicles, he took his place, and in a remarkable and sombre piece of theatre, the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen before, the hall plunged into complete darkness, with each man lit by a single spot, which merged into a skewed eight shape.

We were sitting, unusually for us, in a side box, looking down and across, where perhaps the impact of this was arguably even more dramatic. The air was cold and still, and silent.

I thought he sang magnificently, across a range extending to both extremes of tenor highs and lows, and maybe as high and certainly as low as I think I've heard him, with beautiful colouring, wonderful pianos, and sublime phrasing of which his huge Wagnerian voice, reigned in yet crystal clear and penetrating, is a master. This was the first I'd heard him in recital, as it was for those around us. 

Hugo Wolf
Verborgenheit (Seclusion)

Richard Strauss
Ruhe, meine Seele! (Rest, my soul)

Franz Liszt
Wanderers Nachtlied (Wanderer's Night Song)

Richard Strauss
Morgen! (Tomorrow!)


Elizabeth said...

Skelton is the most wonderful singer, I do agree. His 2004 Peter Grimes is a performance I shall never forget. (Concert PG is on in Sept in QLD as no doubt you know).

wanderer said...

Also Tristan in Perth in August with Asher Fisch.