Romance through song

This Sunday is the last concert in tenor Edmond Choo’s series of fundraisers and farewells. He presents ‘Romance Through Song’  performing Schumann’s Dichterliebe opus 48, with Allison Hillier at the piano. Baritone Christopher Hillier will join Choo to perform more art songs from Germany, Italy and France.

The cycle of 16 (down from the original 20) songs uses text by Heinrich Heine and has the English title ‘A Poe t’s Love’. It was composed in 1840, the year of Schumann’s marriage to his beloved Clara, after years of obstruction from her father, Schumann’s teacher, Friedrich Wieck, who incidentally was absent from the wedding ceremony.

The year 1840 was a time of prolific song writing for Schumann. He composed over 100 songs which Schumann’s biographer John Worthen writes, are considered, not least by Schumann himself, to have been inspired by Clara.

Not surprisingly, the music reflects the emotions that Schumann would have experienced in those years of seeking Wieck’s approval to marry Clara  – tenderness, yearning, anger, frustration and despair.  Schumann’s skill as a pianist added depth and description to the lieder, prompting Clara to write: “The skill in adapting a text, as you do it, is absolutely beyond my comprehension – I sometimes get frightened of your intelligence”.

Perhaps the equal partnership between voice and piano is best summed up in Schumann’s own words:”This is an entirely different sort of music, which doesn’t have to be conveyed through the fingers first”.

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