Music review: Schubertiade

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Edinburgh International Festival: The silken voice of tenor Julian Prégardien plus an unusual line-up of early music instruments ­– guitar, flute and baryton – cast some of Schubert’s best-loved songs in a new light.

St Cecilia’s Hall

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The silken voice of tenor Julian Prégardien plus an unusual line-up of early music instruments ­– guitar, flute and baryton – cast some of Schubert’s best-loved songs in a new light. Prégardien interspersed the music with readings describing the Schubertiades, giving a good impression of what these merry gatherings might have been like.

Xavier Díaz-Latorre’s gentle plangent guitar chords blended well with Prégardien’s voice in the The Wanderer and Little Wild Rose. They were joined by flautist George Barthel and Philippe Pierlot on the baryton – similar to the viol with its warm translucent string sound – who added a rustic flavour to the poignant Shepherds’ Lament.

It’s easy to see why Goethe was Schubert’s poet of choice in Gesänge des Harfners (Songs of the Harper) a soulful work where the knitting together of words and music is seamless.

But it was melody of Schubert’s Ständchen (Serenade), set to words by Ludwig Rellstab and exquisitely performed by the quartet, that the audience were humming on the way out.

While this was a fascinating insight into 19th century home entertainment, most of the songs were quite gloomy. Where were the more livelier numbers that Schubert and his pals no doubt enjoyed playing?

Susan Nickalls