Category: Reviews & Articles
Schubert's Schwanengesang


"Scarlata addressed the audience. Among other things he mentioned his interest in performing lieder for the first time in the round, and that he would enjoy experimenting theatrically with the unusual space of the Gardner Museum's Calderwood Hall. He also discussed the structural peculiarities of Schwanengesang. Unlike Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin, Schubert's earlier song cycles, the lyrics of Schwanengesang were taken from the works of three different poets. Much, indeed, of what we know as Schwanengesang (including the title) was the invention of the publisher as he attempted to put together enough unrelated material after Schubert died to cash in on the popularity of the earlier song cycles. Thus, the cycle includes seven poems of Rellstab's, six of Heine's, and one by Seidl (the final song, "Die Taubenpost" was rumored to have been the last song Schubert composed). There is some evidence that Schubert may have intended to make a full cycle out of the works of Heine, but, if so, he seems never to have completed it (these being his only settings of that poet).

Scarlata's smooth voice and impeccable enunciation paired well with Hochman's delicacy. The resonant low notes of "In der Ferne" were very satisfyingly sung. The appropriately un-nerving colors of "Der Doppelganger" made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And Scarlata did indeed project in the round, as he promised, moving and rotating with the dramatic turns of the music so that no audience member remained neglected for long. Combining this solution to the distribution of the audience with his expressivity, he successfully reached the prodigious height of the hall and of Schubert's Art."