Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Sylvia Schwartz and Gary Matthewman in recital

Sylvia Schwartz - © Enrico Nawrath
Sylvia Schwartz - © Enrico Nawrath
On Sunday (22 February 2015) we went along to one of pianist Gary Matthewman's Lied in London recitals at Queens Gate Terrace. He and Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz performed songs by Schubert, Gabriel Faure, Manuel de Falla and Enrique Granados. For the final group of songs in the programme, Schwartz and Matthewman returned to Schubert, but they had taken a poll from the audience so that the exact selection of songs was chosen based on the audience's top preferences.

Schwartz and Matthewman started with a group of Schubert songs, all of which touched on the subject of love, with Die Sterne, Heimliches Lieben, Abendstandchen: An Lina, Der Ungluckliche An die Sonne and Wer Kauft Liebesgotter. Schwartz has a lovely soft-grained lyric soprano voice with warm vibrato. She sang all the songs from memory, and her eager and communicative manner made them very involving in such an intimate setting.

They followed this with a group of Faure songs, Notre amour (setting Armand Silvestre), Les berceaux (setting Sully Prudhomme) and three settings of Paul Verlaine, Mandoline, En sourdine and L'Hiver a cesse. The combination of language and Faure's fluid melody seemed to suite Schwartz well, and her performances of the Faure songs made a strong impression.

After the interval, three songs in French by Manuel de Falla. Trois Melodies sets three contrasting poems by Theophile Gautier, the songs were written whilst de Falla was in Paris in 1909/10. They seem to bear the influence of the French composers that de Falla knew in Paris, but in the final song Seguidille he evokes his native country. This formed a lovely transition to a selection of songs from Enrique Granados' Coleccion de Tonadillas. These songs (also from 1910) set poems by Fernando Periquet and include some of Granados best know songs. Schwartz and Matthewman performed Cantado, El majo discreto, El majo timido, Amor y odio El tra la la y el punteado and Callejeo. It was lovely to hear a whole group of these, so imaginatively performed, rather than just one or two.

Finally we returned to Schubert, with the added frisson that the final selection of six songs (from a list of around 18) were made at the interval based on audience voting. The results were vivid with some moments of great beauty. Impressively Schwartz sang them all from memory, and introduced each one which gave a very personal touch.
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