Das Lied ohne Erde, and similar experiences

What do you call a Das Lied von der Erde with inaudible soloists? Das Lied ohne Erde.

Sorry, could never resist a bad joke.

I am also trying to cheer myself up after a Das Lied von der Erde with Michael Schade and Susan Platts, neither of whom had a voice big and flexible enough to deliver the songs comfortably.  Neither was audible in anything a bit louder, anything with brass or in any of the tutti. When the orchestra thins out and voices are paired with a small group or one other instrument, then and only then the verses were being heard.

Luckily, some chunks of Der Abschied are chamber-like, so there was at least that. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Peter Oundjian saved (some of) the day, because the musicians came through and gave a solid read of this Mahler masterwork. But trying to listen to your favourite song cycle with singers under duress is not an experience I would recommend to anybody.

There was also world premiere on the program, a song cycle by Howard Shore to the words (an ode to nature) by Elizabeth Cotnoir. That was a snooze, I’m sorry to report, a musically static New Age-y set of poems about the plants, animals and “ancestors”.

It’s rare that I get out of a concert having disliked almost everything on the program (but a hat tip to the TSO). Forgive my grumpiness. I hate writing bad reviews, so I’ll leave it at this.

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3 thoughts on “Das Lied ohne Erde, and similar experiences

    1. Is it RTH, the conductor, or is it the soloist, who just shouldn’t be singing a particular thing? In the Erde concert, I’ve concluded that Schade and Platts were the last two singers who should have been asked to sing the stuff. But oftentimes it *is* RTH, and where you’re sitting, and not enough rehearsal time, and the conductor not inspiring the musicians to do better/not convincing them in his/her vision of the work. It’s another tricky part of writing about a concert: tracking down where things went wrong without having sat in on rehearsals or talked to any of the participants.

      1. Good points. I doubt it’s where I’m sitting as I’m lucky enough to get good seats. It’s also not every concert. I could hear fine for Hannigan, for Written onSkin and for William Tell as well as the Ryan piece. But Stuart Skelton, of all people, was completely covered in Gerontius. There’s only one common factor that I can detect.

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