Saturday, 25 October 2014

Franz Schubert, Lazarus - Wiener Philharmoniker, Festspielhaus St. Pölten

Performance 24th October

Another rarity I was able to hear now is Schubert's fragmental oratory Lazarus. Conductor Ingo Metzmacher decided to perform this interesting work in a concert series with the Wiener Philharmoniker (they are performing it inter alia in Rome, Vienna and in St. Pölten). The music sounds very modern for Schubert and reminds of Weber and even shows perspectives of early Wagner. The dramatic action happens through the recitatives which really show Schubert's dramatic skills. Unfortunately the whole piece stops after a ravishing dramatic outbreak of Lazarus' sister Martha.
Metzmacher and the Orchestra showed a very clear and accurate interpretation with intimate quiet moments as well as dramatic outbursts that remind of the wolf's glen scene (Wolfsschluchtszene) from Weber's Freischütz. Also the choir (Wiener Singverein) was very good and sang very reverent and pious.
The baritone Daniel Schmutzhard sang the role of Simon who only has a big monologue in the beginning of the fragmental second part. This extraordinary monologue can easily be compared to the Florestan scene of Fidelio or other big dramatic scenes like that. The mood always changes within a few beats and the dramatic singing really shows directions to Wagner. Schmutzhard did a great job here with his strong and dramatic baritone which also convinces with fine diction.
Jemina was sung by Sophie Karthäuser who has a lovely light lyric soprano with a very beautiful tone and good stamina. She would be a very good Freischütz Ännchen in my opinion. Her "songs" had something very dance-like even though the matter was very serious.
Werner Güra performed the role of Lazarus' friend Nathanael and also did a fine job. His lyric tenor has some dramatic aspects which help him giving a very heroic impression. He has a great Mozart voice with ease and finesse.
Maria, one of Lazarus' sisters, was sung by soprano Rachel Harnisch who has a beautiful soprano which might be an early state of a lyric dramatic soprano. Her voice is strong with great stamina and still very beautiful with very tasteful long phrasing.
Lazarus' other sister, Martha, was performed by Christiane Libor who did a great job once again. I just can't get enough of her great voice. The perfect symbiosis of beauty and power. During the great outbreaks she showed her Wagner proven power while she convinced with delicate pianissimi during the calm moments.
Steve Davislim performed Lazarus and had the difficult task to find a middle between heroic singing and a continuous morendo until he dies. In my opinion he totally delivered that with his strong heroic voice which is able to totally take itself back. I actually was also very surprised that his diction (he is Australian) was totally flawless and showed no signs of any error. All in all I really liked his singing and his interpretation.
Finally I am very happy that I saw this interesting work which would change the minds about Schubert a lot if it was performed more regularly. Lazarus earns 8 stars.

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