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an inventive occasion of high quality to cherish – Seen and Heard Worldwide

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United KingdomUnited Kingdom Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Dvořák, Schumann: Ema Nikolovska (mezzo-soprano), Sir Andras Schiff (piano, fortepiano). Wigmore Corridor, London, 8.6.2024. (AK)

Ema Nikolovska (mezzo-soprano) and Sir Andras Schiff (piano, fortepiano)

Haydn – She by no means instructed her love (1794-5); Constancy (1794); Sailor’s Tune (1794-5)
Mozart – Komm, liebe Zither, K351 (1780-1); Als Luise die Briefe, K520 (1787); Abendempfindung, K523 (1787)
Schubert – Leichenfantasie, D7 (c.1811)
Dvořák – V národnim tónu, Op.73 (1886)
R. Schumann – Leiderkreis, Op.39 (1840)

Apparently, Sir Andras Schiff opted to make use of Wigmore Corridor’s splendid fortepiano for the primary half of the live performance and its additionally splendid Steinway for after the interval. Wigmore Corridor’s fortepiano is a replica, made by Paul McNulty, of Viennese Conrad Graf’s c.1819 instrument. Graf was an instrument maker for the imperial courtroom however, as Beethoven favored Graf’s devices, in 1825 he additionally supplied a pianoforte to Beethoven.

It was fascinating to listen to Viennese composers Haydn, Mozart and Schubert on the Graf copy. All of the songs carried out had been composed earlier than 1819 however Graf was making fortepianos 20 years earlier and opened his store in 1804. Haydn and Schubert may need been conversant in Graf’s devices, however Mozart missed out as he died in 1791.

The sunshine motion on the fortepiano makes it tough to have full dynamic and articulation management. Nevertheless, Schiff’s accuracy, transparency of polyphonic traces and cantilena enjoying made look acting on the Graf copy as little one’s play. Moreover, Schiff managed to sound symphonic, even operatic within the early Schubert Fantasy, no imply achievement on a fortepiano.

Wigmore Corridor’s technical knowhow is most spectacular. They moved out the Graf fortepiano copy and introduced of their trendy Steinway piano inside a fraction of the interval. I left the corridor just for a couple of minutes however I missed the change altogether.

Anecdotally, Robert and Clara Schumann held Graf pianos in excessive esteem. Accordingly, Roberts’s Liederkreis (composed in 1840) may have been tackled on the fortepiano. Nevertheless, though we weren’t instructed why each fortepiano and piano had been used at this live performance – the programme notes dealt solely with the songs, not with the devices – there will need to have been musical/scholarly causes for this alternative.

Apparently, the live performance concluded with three encores: one tune for solo voice and two Schubert songs for voice and piano. Schiff’s enjoying the 2 Schubert songs on the Steinway piano was totally lovely. As well as, Schiff performed the piano half in ‘Auf dem Wasser zu Singen’ from reminiscence; the Steinway piano below his arms sounded just like the shimmering floor of water in superb free nature. Wouldn’t it have sounded equally on the fortepiano?

Macedonian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska, a BBC New Technology Artist 2019-22, is a younger however achieved artist. Her programme was nicely put collectively, giving spectrum of classical repertoire whereas additionally together with lesser-known works. The English Haydn songs and the very early Schubert Leichenfantasie are more likely to have been new to lots of the viewers as they had been to me.

Nikolovska carried out all songs from reminiscence, all in authentic language. She clearly absolutely understood and thus introduced all feelings inside the textual content/music with dramatic aptitude however, on the identical time, with disciplined type of the interval. There have been some applicable operatic gestures whereas dynamics in addition to tone colors had been plentiful and delivered with care. Nevertheless, for my ears, Nikolovska’s pitching stood in the best way of perfection. It’s potential that the totally different tuning of the 2 devices – the fortepiano was tuned decrease than A=440 and the Steinway piano very barely above A=440 – triggered issues for her however, in my view, relative pitching shouldn’t be disturbed by such variations.

Nikolovska is a superb communicator inside the efficiency but additionally off-performance. She talked to the viewers from the stage with ease, aptitude, and loads of humour. Sadly, she spoke with no microphone: I had an exquisite seat midway by the corridor and heard about half of what she mentioned in her prolonged verbal communication. It’s potential that individuals behind me heard much less though, judging by viewers responses, a good portion did hear the whole lot clearly.

Nikolovska spoke with utmost respect about Sir Andras Schiff, and her appreciation for her prime pianist accomplice was evident all through. Schiff, in flip, gave his full musical help and was encouraging with out being patronising. His request for a Macedonian solo tune for one of many encores was a really good and really welcome gesture, particularly as Nikolovska sang it so superbly. Do I feel that there was pure chemistry between the 2 artists? I’m not certain, however their professionalism produced an inventive occasion of high quality to cherish.

Agnes Kory

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