Tuesday, 31 March 2009, Lunchtime concert (1pm)
Song recital at City Music Society
Bishopsgate Institute, London
Thomas Guthrie baritone
Sharona Joshua 1853 Pleyel piano
It was good to catch up with Sharona Joshua again, this time to hear her accompanying Thomas Guthrie on her Pleyel fortepiano, of 1853, in Die Schöne Müllerin at the Bishopsgate Institute Great Hall.
Schuberts gift for translating lyric poetry into song remains unmatched, but modern performance does him few favours. When written, song cycles like Die Schöne Müllerin, were intimately sung, accompanied by a wooden framed fortepiano, which was well suited to chamber recitals. Performance in large halls may suit modern fortepianos, but not lieder recitals; their use is probably best confined to recording studios with voice and instrument carefully balanced – the voice unforced, and the piano commentary picturesque. What of period performance then? When given in a public auditorium, volume of sound is so important, that without amplification, the nuances by which Schubert magically re-creates poetry in music are usually unheard. Stepping up the volume by using a later, iron framed, fortepiano was highly imaginative, although still representing a considerable compromise in this auditorium.
Sharona Joshua, a master of early piano, and Thomas Guthrie, no less so in lieder, gave a spellbinding and natural performance of this glorious music. We hope and pray for a CD recording in which her fortepiano and his voice are timelessly matched.