Franz Schubert’s tragic “Winterreise” is possibly one of the most memorable cycles of songs composed in the history of classical music.
Mark Padmore, a classical tenor, and Paul Lewis, a classical pianist, presented their rendition of “Winterreise” to the Lafayette community on April 21, at the Williams Center for the Arts on Saturday.
According to the Artistic and Executive Director of the Performance Series, Hollis Ashby, this is the concert that she has been looking forward to for years, and it was obvious why. Being able to see Padmore and Lewis’ performance was a treasured opportunity.
“Winterreise” was originally composed of a set of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller, which tells a tragic story of a man defeated in his pursuit of love. Schubert’s music, “published in 1840, the year he finally married Clara Wieck after a separation imposed by her father—were essentially love letters written from afar,” according to the New York Times.
Padmore offers a marvelous interpretation of the songs that were completely in German. As someone who does not speak German at all and only had a program with the bare English translations, I was drawn deeply into the story by his performance. To me, Padmore lived through the whole story on stage in the span of an hour and ten minutes.
His dynamic changes were also extremely impressive as a result of his masterful control over the higher octaves of notes.
Padmore transitioned flawlessly from beautiful lines such as “Ich träumte von bunten Blumen, So wie sie wohl blühen im Mai” meaning “I dreamed of bright flowers, such as blossom in May” to “Da war es kalt und finster, Es schrieen die Raben vom Dach”, which means “it was cold and dark, on the roof the ravens croaked.”
In an explosion of notes, Padmore projects himself effortlessly to the audience in the auditorium. Even at times when the piece is meant to be quiet, Padmore made sure that everyone could hear him with solid abdomen support and beautiful pronunciations in German.
Paul Lewis, the pianist, also shows his masterful understanding of Schubert’s incredibly complex compositions. Lewis interacts well with Padmore, complimenting the latter’s singing throughout the performance with perfect dynamics.