A Recital in York of Early Romantic Lieder

Lieder recitals appear to have become all the rage. Up in the North, we have Leeds Lieder, and other music organizations are getting in on the act. The RNCM has a Day of Song coming up, and yesterday it was the University of York, with its Lieder Day at the National Centre for Early Music. Their most enterprising programme focussed on earlier and less familiar composers of the genre. So, while the evening recital by Mhari Lawson and Matthew Brook, both highly experienced in this repertory, centred on Schubert and Mendelssohn, there was exploration of songs by Carl Friedrich Zelter, Johann Reichardt, Carl Loewe and Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn).

And what riches were turned up! For example, in the piano accompaniment to the settings by Zelter of Goethe and Schiller, ornamentation was used to give musical expression to themes in the text. How satisfying, incidentally, it was to hear this, expertly played by Peter Seymour, on a fortepiano from the 1820s. But, for me, the most exciting discovery was Carl Loewe’s highly dramatic evocations of medieval legend and fantasy. Surprising that these pieces are such rarities.