Sunday, 24 April 2016

Rising Stars (Appl/Matthewman)

Schumann, Muhly and Schubert, Songs (Ben Appl accompanied by Gary Matthewman)
Benjamin Appl is an impressive young German baritone, brought on tour by two EU programmes: the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organization) and the Rising Stars programme which sets talented, promising stars on tour around Europe. 
Ben Appl. Credit Falk Kastell
For 6pm on a Monday night (18th April), the turnout was pretty good at Birmingham Town Hall. The first half was comprised of various Schumann songs; after the interval a short cycle by Muhly written especially for Appl as part of the programme and some Schubert. This wasn’t the work’s premiere, but on the other hand few will have heard it before. A series of letters from WWI designed to show the full gamut of the wartime experience: a wife begging her husband be sent home for conjugal leave; another wife leaving her husband, consigning the children at the orphanage to marry a new man to be kept in a life of luxury. It was a sophisticated representation of the complexities of the conflict, to which Appl did much justice.
Schubert songs showed off Appl’s voice to much effect; with growing confidence and a golden voice, the highlight was an utterly superb ‘Nachtstück’. Throughout all he was ably supported by Gary Matthewman on the piano, especially in the second half.
The range and diversity of the programme gave both an opportunity to show off their skill
Robert Schumann: ‘Mein Wagner rollet langsam’ (Heine) Op 124 no 4
‘Du bist wie eine Blume’ (Heine) Op 25 no 24
‘Belsazar’ (Heine) Op 56
Dichterliebe (Heine) Op 48
Franz Schubert: Strohe aus 'Die Goetter Griechenanlands' D677
Nico Muhly: The Last Letter
Franz Schubert: ‘Seligkeit’ (Hölty) D433
‘Die Gebüsche’ (Schlegel) D646
‘Der Musensohn’ (Goethe) D764
‘Der Wanderer an den Mond’ (Seidl) D870
‘Abendstern’ (Mayrhofer) D806
‘Der Wanderer’ (Schmidt Von Lübeck) D489
‘Nachtstück’ (Mayrhofer) D672

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