|Bostridge; photo (c) Simon Fowler|
After the interval, Adès gave a masterly account of Liszt's "Petrarch Sonnet No. 123," subtler perhaps than it deserved. Perhaps it's a personal bias, but I felt the Liszt lieder suffered by comparison with the emotional specificity and nuance of Schumann and Schubert. Still, Bostridge brought a beautiful interiority to "Es muss ein Wunderbares sein," especially. The closing selections from "Schwanengesang" were varied in expression, but unremittingly intense. I appreciated that "Das Fischermädchen" was given with a focused, seductive snarl that made it clearly another expression of the poet's anguish and anger, rather than a respite from it. Adès made the shimmering chords of "Die Stadt" chillingly unheimlich. "Der Doppelgänger" was, to me, nothing less than terrifying. The expression Bostridge gave to "Schatz" in the first line was a foretaste of what was to come. The chords from the piano felt like the only sounds in an unnaturally hushed world. There was a chilling pause between the horrifying reveal--"meine eigene Gestalt!"--and the apostrophe: "Du Doppelgänger..." The deathly silence at the end was succeeded by enthusiastic applause. After we'd all recovered a bit, Bostridge generously gave two encores: Caliban's hauntingly beautiful aria from Adès Tempest ("Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises") and, after still more enthusiasm, an exquisite, subtly spun account of the song I had been most sorry to see left out of the Schwanengesang selections: "Ständchen." When I expressed my great happiness to the Beloved Flatmate, she pointed out that the evening had been one of depression without a glimmer of redemptive hope. Yes... but I got my lieder fix, and it was excellent.