Sunday 15 June 2008

Aldeburgh 2008 - Robert Holl sings Schubert

After two days in a row of opera in London, it's the train up to Suffolk for this year's Aldeburgh festival. Unfortunately I missed Aimard's concert last night, so my first experience is an all Schubert lieder recital. This concert was out at the very picturesque Blythburgh Church (well, it would have been picturesque had it not been covered in scaffolding).

Unfortunately, Robert Holl does not really come across as a leader singer, his biography lists big Wagnerian roles and his voice sounds it. Big and loud, too loud in row E, and somewhat rough around the edges in a way which while it probably doesn't matter for Hans Sachs certainly does here. One wonders if too much of that sort of role has put lieder out of reach. The voice is particularly thin and unattractive in the quieter moments.

These were mainly later songs, mostly in the D700s and I am not always mad keen on the poetry, which is uninspiring and repetitive, my favourites in this regard are those of Schiller, such as The Diver, D77 which tend to be the earlier ones. Possibly this makes them less musically interesting, which is why I don't seem to come across them as much in concert.

Rudolf Jansen's piano accompaniment is very ordinary. The best piano in these settings brings out some of the genius Schubert displays in his sonatas and yet remains sensitive to the voice. This didn't really do either.

It wasn't a bad concert per se, but it was fairly unremarkable.

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