Schwanengesang – Roderick Williams (baritone), Momentum artists

I felt special, the whole socially-distanced audience, the ushers and the performers felt it too in a venue that was breaking free of lockdown, and we were treated to a very special concert.

Roderick Williams

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Roderick Williams is a star who always fills the Dome to capacity but we haven’t heard nearly enough yet from the well-established Momentum artists, if only the Covid lockdowns hadn’t stymied regular concert going. To offset this, Williams shared his platform with two excellent young singers and two astonishingly responsive accompanists.

Schwanengesang (Swan Song), a posthumous collection of Schubert’s songs, hastily compiled by his opportunistic publisher, is a heady mix of bluster, longing and ironic sweetness. It is a showcase of some of his most romantic work and a splendid opportunity for the accompanists to realise the storms, the rippling waters, the haunting melancholy and the desolation of the poets’ imagination.

Ella O'Neill

Ella O’Neill (piano)

The wit and individuality of pianists Ella O’Neill and Ana Manastireanu perfectly complimented the wide dramatic range of the singers.

Ana Manastireanu (piano)

Ana Manastireanu (piano)

Their programme was extended with some extra songs. Ella Taylor’s bright soprano convincingly conveyed the sensuously apprehensive ecstasy in ‘Ganymed’ and the naïve indignation of ‘Die Forelle’, which they shrugged off with a jolly shiver.

Ella Taylor (soprano)

Ella Taylor (soprano)

Baritone Themba Mvula brought a youthful earnestness to ‘Frühlingslaube’ and pounded out ‘Aufenthalt’ and ‘Der Atlas’ with vigour.

Themba Mvula (baritone)

Themba Mvula (baritone)

The mainstay of this recital was Williams’ performance, every phrase and gesture easy, clear and full of meaning. Singing softly he filled the auditorium, loudly he made the Dome ring. However, as always with Schwanengesang, after the slow menace and overwhelming climaxes of ‘Der Doppelgänger’, it was the jaunty ‘Die Taubenpost’ that drew out my tears, with Manastireanu so lightly touching the carrier pigeon’s fluttering motif as Williams voiced young Schubert’s final, fatal yearning.

Dome Concert Hall, 17 May 2021


Andrew Connal

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