Matthias Goerne, accompanied by Alexey Botvinov, has performed a magnificent program «Winterreise» (Winter Journey) by Schubert. This song cycle for voice and piano is a tragic peak in the work of the great composer. Despair, gloom and cold are correspond to music mood. After series of dramatic events Schubert was depressed and desperate. He wasn’t able to write music until he read newly published poems of his favorite author Wilhelm Muller.
Touched to the very core by poems, Schubert started selecting them for his setting. «It seems that time has been frozen in ice. Nothing, except the journey through the loneliness, exists.» Unfortunately, as it often happens, the song cycle gained its popularity only after composer’s death.
Matthias Goerne is the outstanding vocalist of our days. He doesn’t give interviews to glossy magazines and he doesn’t appear at the popular talk-shows. Instead he is saving the genre of chamber singing, as most experts admit. And, telling the truth, it’s hard due to modern «pop- classics» nowadays is rapidly replacing all other genres.
There is a common practice when organizers provide the audience with total translation of a piece to encourage those listeners who don’t understand the language( in this case it’s German). It gives us a chance to track how deeply the soloist immerses into music and poems and what peaks he achieves as a result. Frankly, I prepared the text in advance to be able to read it from my smartphone during the performance. I was so naive. Before the concert we were warned that any shooting was forbidden. Alexey Botvinov had posted this information on his page as well. Moreover , if the rules had been broken, Matthias Goerne would have stopped the concert and even left. A journalist, who was texting during the performance, was obliged to leave the concert because of not listening carefully.
The concert continued as if nothing had happened. But after that, I glanced at my smartphone cautiously, waiting for a severe look crashing on me.
Back to the vocal artistry of maestro, I should admit his performance of each song as a completed stage miniature. The singer plays perfectly both by his voice and gestures. He found a right balance between drama and vocal. Besides, his voice is incredibly versatile. A moment earlier you heard a youthful delight and then, suddenly, it changes into profound tragedy.
Performing a short romance within one and a half minute requires from the artist much bigger efforts therefore it’s crucial to find a like-minded partner. Matthias Goerne has performed in collaboration with Alexey Botvinov. They demonstrated absolutely harmonious work during the performance. Despite the fact Alexey Botvinov is not an accompanist but a soloist, he managed to accompany Matthias Goerne so sensitively, leaving him all the attention. It was also obvious that Alexey Botvinov totally understood the professional level of the vocalist as well as his musicality and even his personality that helped both the musicians sound brilliant and harmonious.
The audience was special that evening. The silence was incredible. The real experts and connoisseurs of music attended the concert. The maestro was called for an encore three times. Alas..And it’s quiet understandable. The concert of that level and tension requires a total dedication and, perhaps, the singer was just exhausted. Honestly, the concert ended up as a logically completed performance. And it’s even hard to suppose what else could be performed without breaking that impression the concert left.
Foto by Nikolay Vdovenko