Today’s lunchtime recital in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre was a recital of Schubert and Strauss songs on the theme “Love’s Dark Shore”. The performers were German bass Franz-Josef Selig, in town singing King Marke in Tristan und Isolde, and the COC’s own Rachel Andrist at the piano. There wasn’t much about “Love” in the pieces chosen but there was plenty of death, depression and despair. One might think it would be a complete downer but nobody could possibly be depressed witnessing the artistry of Selig.
Those who have heard Selig in Tristan know that he has a massive voice. It was fascinating to hear him turn it to lieder. He is a very German lieder singer in the best possible way. He enunciates with great clarity and gets full value out of the meaning of every phrase. He clearly loves the texts. He also manages his huge voice wonderfully. Mostly he sang quite quietly with beautiful legato and perfect control but when he wanted volume it was there in abundance and without strain. He also has a real range of tone colour and sheer beauty of tone. Often he sounded more like a baritone than a bass but he could get almost tectonically low when he needed to. It was very impressive. Rachel’s accompaniment was perfectly fine too though I think most of the audience was focussed on the voice.
I did hear a few grumbles about the unrelieved darkness of the material but I felt the works suited the singer and it was, as these things are, a fairly short programme so the lack of variety didn’t really bother me. All in all, a very worthwhile way to spend one’s lunch break.