Classical Review: Schubertiade.

Performed at the YMCA Jerusalem on February 5.

Theater (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Schubert certainly deserves a festival such as the Israeli Schubertiade. But so do some other Classical and Romantic composers.
Why Schubert has been singled out for celebration and there is no “Haydniade,” “Mendelssohniade” or a “Brahmsiade” only the organizers and the Almighty know.
Austrian tenor Daniel Johannsen and British pianist Graham Johnson performed Schubert’s Die Schoene Muellerin (“The Miller’s Beautiful Daughter”) with a freshness of approach, leaving one with the impression of hearing this oft-performed song cycle for the first time. Apart form the sheer beauty of Johannsen’s lyric tenor, he knows also how to inject into it many subtle inflections of tone color.
These make repeated melodic phrases or similar words of the text sound altogether different.
His softest and calmest, almost inaudible pianissimo notes are the emotionally most intensely charged and heartrending ones, and thus increase the forceful impact of the following outcries such as Dein ist mein Herz (“Yours is my heart”) or Die geliebte Muellerin ist Mein (“The Miller’s beloved Daughter is Mine”). After all the contrasting intense emotions, the concluding Gute Nacht (“Good Night”) sounded like a profoundly heartfelt prayer.
Johnson’s piano part was extremely attentive to the singer’s intentions.
Schubert’s Quartet The Death and the Maiden deserves better than to be relegated to a mere dessert after an evening-filling work such as the Schoene Muellerin. Superfluous as it was after the songs, it was performed accurately, and somewhat mechanically, by the Aviv Quartet.