At the heart of this programme of Beethoven songs performed by Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano is the song cycle An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved). It dates from 1816, the year that saw the publication of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Setting six poems by Alois Jeitteles, it is generally acknowledged to be the first example of a song cycle, a genre that became important in the 19th and 20th centuries. Beethoven creates a coherent whole, linking songs together with brief piano interludes and closing the circle by recalling material from the opening song in the final song.
“Somehow the most concentrated 13 or 14 minutes of music that Beethoven ever wrote,” is how Antonio Pappano describes An die ferne Geliebte. For Ian Bostridge, the cycle is an expression of Beethoven the romantic rather than the striving, heroic Beethoven we often perceive in the symphonies and concertos. “It’s a distillation of Beethoven as lover, but his beloved is far away and he can never reach her. The sadness of that is so poignant.” (Beethoven was notoriously unlucky in love.) It is through the manifestations of nature – and through his songs – that the lover in An die ferne Geliebte senses a connection with his beloved. Bostridge draws an analogy with the composer: “Beethoven puts his feelings into music on a piece of paper and sends it out to the world. It is rather like the dedication he made on the score of the Missa Solemnis.” After he had written that epic choral work, which came a few years after An die ferne Geliebte, Beethoven inscribed the score with the words: “Vom Herzen, möge es wieder, zu Herzen gehen!” – “From the heart: may it go in turn to the heart.”
Among the other songs on the album, the best known is the rapturously lyrical ‘Adelaide’, which dates from the mid-1790s. In a very different vein is a song to an Italian text, ‘In questa tomba oscura’ (1806-7), in which a dead man admonishes his faithless lover: “The textures of the piano reflect the darkness and bitterness of the text,” says Antonio Pappano. He also feels that Beethoven had an influence on the Italian opera: “I don’t think Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini would have been possible without Beethoven.”
Bostridge and Pappano are joined by violinist Vilde Frang and cellist Nicolas Altstaedt for eight of Beethoven’s charming settings (in English) of folksongs from the British Isles. Between 1809 and 1823, the composer arranged more than 160 song melodies at the request of his publisher in Edinburgh, George Thomson. “These arrangements were essentially commercial ventures,” explains Bostridge, “but Beethoven put some amazing music for piano trio into them.” Pappano concurs: “They’re real drawing-room music because they are for piano, voice, violin and cello. When we all play together, it’s like a family making music at home.”
Warner Classics has claimed two prizes at the 59th Grammy Awards ceremony, held last night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast live on the CBS network.
British tenor Ian Bostridge, together with Sir Antonio Pappano at the piano, received the award for Best Classical Vocal Album for their critically acclaimed Shakespeare Songs, tying with Dorothea Röschmann and Mitsuko Uchida's Schumann. The wide-ranging recital explores four centuries of Shakespeare settings from William Byrd to Igor Stravinsky, marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. The duo were joined by special guests Elizabeth Kenny on lute, flautist Adam Walker, violist Lawrence Power and clarinetist Michael Collins.
"It has been a great joy to rediscover the music in Shakespeare's incomparable texts and the music that has been written over the past four centuries to clothe them," said Bostridge. "Working again with Tony Pappano has been a particular pleasure."
The Best Choral Performance Grammy, meanwhile, went to the Warsaw Philharmonic orchestra and choir with composer-conductor Krzysztof Penderecki for the milestone recording Penderecki Conducts Penderecki. The album unites huge vocal and orchestral forces for the a collection of sacred music by Poland's greatest living composer, including the world premiere recording of his Dies Illa. The 83-year-old Penderecki has described the human voice as "the most difficult of instruments".
The nominations for the 59th GRAMMY Awards have been announced, with three Warner Classics and Erato releases among the Classical albums to receive the nod.
A milestone release from Poland has been nominated in the Best Choral Performance category: the first volume in a series entitled Penderecki Conducts Penderecki, in which the legendary 82-year-old composer helms the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and distinguished soloists in both new works (including the world premiere of his Dies illa) and iconic masterpieces.
French soprano Sabine Devieilhe's tribute to the women in Mozart's life, The Weber Sisters, is up for Best Classical Vocal Album.
In the same category is British tenor Ian Bostridge's new recital with Sir Antonio Pappano at the piano, Shakespeare Songs, exploring four centuries of Shakespearean poetry in song to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.
The GRAMMY winners will be announced on 12 February 2017 in a Los Angeles ceremony. See the complete list of nominees here.
As part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's milestone Shakespeare Live! from the RSC event last week, marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, tenor Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano at the piano performed their hauntingly beautiful rendition of Quilter's Come Away, Death (a setting of text from Twelfth Night.)
This deeply moving, candlelit performance was broadcast live on BBC TWO and live on Cinemas as part on BBC Radio 3 as part of the 'Sounds of Shakespeare' weekend.
Grammy Award-winners Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano have been working together on the stage and in the recording studio for over 20 years. Now they embark on a project marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare with a new album out in September. Shakespeare Songs celebrates the four centuries of music and performance that his plays and sonnets have inspired.
The pair will make an appearance on the BBC’s Shakespeare Live! From the RSC broadcast on Saturday 23 April (BBC Two, Saturday 8.30pm), with a haunting rendition of Roger Quilter’s ‘Come away, Death’. The all-star show honouring the greatest poet and dramatist in the English language will be screened live to cinemas in the UK and Europe. The performance was filmed at a candlelit Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare is buried.
‘Come away, Death’, one of the tracks from the new album, will make its exclusive premiere on Record Review (BBC Radio 3, Saturday 9am) the same day and will be immediately available to stream/download from iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer and all other digital platforms.
Shakespeare’s peerless feeling for the music of the English language has inspired countless composers, from those who set the Bard’s verse during his lifetime to musicians as diverse as Britten, Finzi, Korngold and Stravinsky. Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano, together with four outstanding chamber musicians, delve into the rich Shakespeare legacy for this brand new recording, marking the playwright’s quarter-centenary with a delectable programme of works written for Jacobean productions, Restoration revivals and the modern concert hall. As guests Ian has invited his friends the lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, and for Stravinsky’s Three Songs, flautist Adam Walker, violist Lawrence Power and clarinetist Michael Collins.
“Shakespeare has been a part of my life as a performer from the very start,” says Ian Bostridge, “Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream and Ades's The Tempest have been milestones for me as a singer.
"It has been a great joy to rediscover the music in Shakespeare's incomparable texts and the music that has been written over the past four centuries to clothe them, from the simplest songs of his own contemporaries, through the melodic delights of the likes of Haydn, Britten and Finzi to the matchless complexity of the late Stravinsky. Working again with Tony Pappano has been a joy; and making my first recording with a long term musical partner, lutenist Liz Kenny, a particular pleasure.”
Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano will perform Shakespeare Songs at the Wigmore Hall on Monday 14 November.
‘Come away, Death’ is taken from the duo's highly-anticipated forthcoming album, Shakespeare songs (to be released in September).
The BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company have today announced more performers and musical highlights for Shakespeare Live! From The RSC on BBC Two on 23 April.
Among the highlights of this rich feast of music, theatre and poetry will be a haunting rendition of Come Away, Death from British tenor Ian Bostridge, accompanied by Sir Antonio Pappano at the piano.
The song will be filmed at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare is buried. The track will appear on the duo's highly-anticipated forthcoming album, Shakespeare’s songs (to be released in the Autumn), but will be available to stream and download on 23 April only, marking exactly 400 years since the Bard shuffled off this mortal coil.
Shakespeare Live! From The Royal Shakespeare Company will also be screened live to 368 cinemas.
The all-star show honouring the greatest poet and dramatist in the English language will be screened live to cinemas in the UK and Europe by Picturehouse Entertainment and by BBC Worldwide to the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Russia.
Available now for the quatercentenary: The Sound of Shakespeare: authentic music from 16th and 17th-century England, and a collection of sonnets with music, When Love Speaks, featuring such luminaries as the late Alan Rickman, Joseph Fiennes, Rufus Wainwright, and Barbara Bonney.
In his probing, meticulously researched and deeply personal account of Schubert's greatest song cycle, tenor Ian Bostridge drew on decades of experience performing and recording the 24 songs. Schubert's Winter Journey: The Anatomy of an Obsession is as much about the existential crisis of the cycle's protagonist, haunted and heartbroken, as it is about Bostridge's personal journey into the depths and inner torment of this music, which he considers "an indispensable work of art that should be as much a part of our common experience as the poetry of Shakespeare and Dante, the paintings of Van Gogh and Picasso, the novels of the Brontë sisters or Marcel Proust."
Released last year by Faber and Faber, his critically acclaimed account has now won the 2015 Duff Cooper Prize for a literary work of non-fiction. Bostridge has published three books, most recently Schubert's Winter Journey. The Sunday Times judged that "Bostridge’s highly enjoyable book provides a rewarding, intelligently written companion to the piece for those who know it well, as well as for those who are approaching it for the first time." Winterreise has been important to Bostridge since he first became fascinated by singing as a teenager; in 1997 he made a TV film of the cycle, directed by David Alden, and it featured significantly in his international performing schedule in 2015.
Bostridge has given more than 100 performances of the complete cycle - running the whole emotional gauntlet on stage each time. He has also recorded it with Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, and even filmed it in a starkly dramatised setting. The album and film are available as part of Bostridge's 3-CD + DVD collection devoted to Schubert's three major song cycles: Winterreise, Die Schwanengesang and Die Schöne Müllerin.
He has worked closely with Warner Classics to personally select the contents of his 7-CD Autograph boxed set, containing Winterreise along with Janácek, Monteverdi, Britten and more. The collection reveals his incredible versatility and, in particular, his exemplary command of German and English poetry. Bostridge’s performances are complemented by operatic specialist Jon Tolansky’s exclusive audio interview with the singer – an illuminating account in which Bostridge reflects on his career and achievements to date.
Creating a biographical panorama of his career, the British tenor Ian Bostridge has personally selected each track in this 7-CD Autograph collection. With a focus on both song (in German and English) and opera (from Monteverdi to Adès by way of Handel, Mozart and Britten), it demonstrates just why he is recognised as one of today’s most distinctive, intelligent and compelling singers. The tenor also complements his performances with an exclusive and illuminating audio interview.
This is the fourth release in the Autograph series, launched earlier in 2015 with collections devoted to Angela Gheorghiu, Thomas Hampson and José van Dam. Each box focuses on a single artist, providing a biographical panorama of his or her career through a series of thematically programmed CDs and fascinating documentation. Each collection is devised in collaboration with the featured artist and includes a newly-recorded exclusive interview, Illustrated with musical extracts and conducted by the distinguished journalist and broadcaster Jon Tolansky, discussing his or her life and work. Bostridge, a former Oxford academic who has written three books and has been described as “something of a polymath” by the New York Times, can be relied upon to provide articulate and stimulating opinions on his career and the music he performs.
Bostridge is a highly distinctive artist, an interpreter of exceptional intensity who uses his fundamentally lyrical voice to powerful dramatic effect. When he appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall in 2011 The New York Times wrote: “ ... this was a Dichterliebe in which an insightful vocal artist had a compelling idea about the words and music of every phrase.” [Schumann’s song cycle Dichterliebe appears on CD6 of this collection.] Bostridge expressed his philosophy as a performer to the Financial Times in an interview in 2013: “It may not be obvious at first why such music is enjoyable but it is consciousness-raising. It makes you think about what is valuable in life – the things music ultimately wants to address ... Art is part of the good life but it’s also part of what it means to be a human being ... Art has transcendent value and if you live in a democratic society, you want to bring it to as many as possible.”
Ian Bostridge, one of the leading Schubert tenors of his generation, has just released a new book on the composer's Winterreise song cycle. Winter Journey: The Anatomy of an Obsession is an insightful and deeply personal exploration of what the British singer calls "an indispensable work of art that should be as much a part of our common experience as the poetry of Shakespeare and Dante, the paintings of Van Gogh and Picasso, the novels of the Brontë sisters or Marcel Proust."
Bostridge has long been considered one of today's greatest interpreters of lieder for his albums of Schubert's three great song cycles, Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Schwanengesang (with pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Leif Ove Andsnes and Antonio Pappano respectively). These benchmark recordings have at last been gathered together in a 3CD set, along with a bonus DVD of Bostridge's compelling filmed dramatisation of the complete Winterreise (with pianist Julius Drake), complete with studio sets, actors, costumes and props.
"Winterreise can seem a little intimidating," writes Bostridge. "Its 24 gloomy songs are to be taken in one, extended, 70-minute dose. It shouldn’t be like that. The music of the cycle is varied and engagingly weird – Schubert’s friends were shocked when they first heard it. It is full of energy, despair, passion, sensuality and gallows humour. It is a drama, too, a piece of theatre, with its own rhythm, and a crucial role for the confrontation between singer and audience. Not to forget the piano, which turns sonic imagery – rustling leaves, posthorns, a falling leaf – into a psychological landscape. Singer as ego, piano as id.
"By placing the piece in as broad a context as possible – exploring its roots in the 1820s, its resonances now, its personal meaning for Schubert and for others, listeners and performers – I hope I’ve provided a way in to one of the great creations of the western musical tradition."
Ian Bostridge's Schubert song cycles collection includes Winterreise (on CD and DVD), Schwanengesang and Die Schöne Müllerin.
Warner Classics & Erato artists have received 2 nominations:
Felix & Fanny Mendelssohn – Quartets (ERATO)
Britten: The Rape of Lucretia (ERATO)
Ian Bostridge, Susan Gritton, Christopher Purves, Angelika Kirschlager, Claire Booth, Peter Coleman-Wright, Hilary Summers etc Aldeburgh Ensemble/Knussen
Voting opens at www.classical-music.com/awards
from Friday 17 January – 28 February 2014