Kasarova Recital Broadcast, May 6th

[White Jacket and White Shirts: Vesselina Kasarova will be broadcast from Schwetzingen – Phot Credit: via focus.de]

If the at for May 19th seems too long, Beltane’s arrival is bountiful this year: tomorrow night, as alerted by Smorg, German radio channel SWR2 live broadcasts the Kasarova song recital from the Schwetzinger Festspiele, with none other than Charles Spencer accompanying.

Tune in at 7.30 p.m. (GMT+1) for some Schumann, Brahms (including “Von ewiger Liebe”! a personal favorite running on repeat with Ferrier at the moment) and some Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov – I’m looking forward to the  latter in particular.

The program in full, according to SWR2 (although I hope she sings the Russioan works in Russian!):

Robert Schumann:
“Der arme Peter” op. 53 Nr. 3

Johannes Brahms:
“Junge Lieder” op. 63 Nr. 5
“Lerchengesang” op. 70 Nr. 2
“Von ewiger Liebe” op. 43 Nr. 1

Robert Schumann:
Aus den hebräischen Gesängen op. 24 Nr. 15
“Stille Liebe” op. 35 Nr. 8
“Stille Tränen” op. 35 Nr. 10

Johannes Brahms:
“Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen” op. 32 Nr. 2
“Wenn du nur zuweilen lächelst” op. 57 Nr. 2
“Unbewegte laue Luft” op. 57 Nr. 8

Peter Tschaikowsky:
Es war im frühen Frühling op. 38 Nr. 2
Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt op. 6 Nr. 6
Warum? op. 6 Nr. 5
Wiegenlied op. 16 Nr. 1
Leuchtende Tag op. 47 Nr. 6

Sergej Rachmaninow:
Sing nicht, du Schöne op. 4 Nr. 4
Der Traum op. 8 Nr. 5
Flieder op. 21 Nr. 5
Zu meinem Leidwesen hab ich lieben gelernt op. 8 Nr. 4
Im Schweigen der geheimnisvollen Nacht op. 4 Nr. 3
Hier ist es schön op. 21 Nr. 7

45 thoughts on “Kasarova Recital Broadcast, May 6th”

  1. Speaking of Ferrier, on May 10 and for a week after, BBC3 will have
    “A special concert from the Hallé orchestra celebrating the centenary of Kathleen Ferrier’s birth and the 50th anniversary of her last performance of Das Lied von der Erde with the orchestra. Under the baton of music director Sir Mark Elder, the Hallé play Mozart’s Symphony no. 40 in G minor, a work suffused with the composer’s grief at the death of his six-month old daughter. And in the second half they are joined by mezzo-soprano Alice Coote and tenor Lars Cleveman for their collected tribute to Ferrier – Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler’s extraordinary response to the loss of his own daughter, a work which fully explores his intense feelings of sorrow and solitude.”


  2. and now for a biography, VK’s vocal characteristics and a general overview of Russian song… (nothing said that we wouldn’t know already)


    1. i confused. she’s singing Rachmaninov now? must admit i like this 2nd batch of russian song a *bit* better than first batch, though whole thing is entirely new to me…


  3. Yeah with you there, the Russian stuff really interesting, Charles giving it laldy (lo of energy) as we say hereabouts. Audience seem to be warming up too 🙂


    1. it is!!!
      “now a bulgarian song […] it’s about love, and about how love can hurt sometimes” (cue audience laughter because of her tone)


  4. Loved how light her speaking voice still is. All the dark Russian songs with the dark slavic voice, then all of the sudden this high little voice talking to the audience!


  5. Kasarovians, it has been a pleasure to listen along with you, as it always is. 🙂 Good night! (and see you on the 19th – minus Dr. T., who is responsible for the on-site feed 😉 )


        1. You bet! I’m travelling the week before but have changed my return date so I don’t miss a single minute.
          Still reeling with excitement ( not the Scottish kind! )


  6. Kudos! For being so tactful with one of your Divas, but you might be interested in this review of „Mannheimer Morgen/Schwetzinger Zeitung“.


    The gist is: “what a truly wonderful Tchaikovsky, but who the hell did tell her to sing Brahms and Schumann?“

    Well, she’s a grown up lady, so why on earth did she decide to sing Schumann and Brahms?
    Divas/Divos and their repertoire … – too wide a subject. In the golden days of the Lied they knew what they could sing when and what they should leave to their colleagues. Nowadays IMHO there is only one Mezzo who manages this balance perfectly yet unorthodoxly well, who isn’t told but decides herself: von Otter. Heja Sverige 😉 !


    1. To Sangesfluegel.
      Isn’t the human condition wonderful? – we have choices.
      Isn’t the radio a wonderful invention? – it has an “off” button.


      1. Oops, I am afraid I was too unclear and you got me wrong, sorry about that: NO the “off ” button would * not * have been an option! One would have missed that nice 2nd half and this *truly wonderful* Tchaikovsky!

        @Listener: I am sorry to disagree but I am afraid it is not a pure matter of taste. It was a matter of reading the music, a matter of intonation and – as far as I can tell – a matter of pronunciation. What did not really work in part I was brilliant in part II.

        VK is an excellent singer if she sings the right repertoire. That’s what that review is about, and I could not agree more. The reaction of the audience in part I and part II speaks volumes.
        I don’t know a single singer, in fact I don’t know a single musician – neither nowadays nor in the past – who can do everything.
        Nobody can and: nobody has to! Therefore I think it is such a pity for the musicians and – even more important – a pity for the music that so many don’t stick to what they do best.
        Let’s hope this Tchaikovsky cd Cat mentioned becomes reality.

        I earn my living with music, I am not a critic and I don’t know too many really good critics who are „blasé“. The excellent ones love music and know a lot about music though my favourite critic is this one:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ozEA0JJiCY 😉

        Sorry, no English version available but those who can follow the music will be able to understand the plot. Enjoy!


        1. Hiya,
          I see where you’re coming from, I think. Though I don’t think you would hear much objection from many white shirts here if a critic says that he doesn’t like how so and so singer does certain repertoire, but a line is crossed when a critic suggests that a singer should not sing certain repertoire just because the critic and/or some in the audience don’t find his or her rendition enjoyable.

          I mean, everyone ought to be able to sing whatever he or she wants to sing, so long as it doesn’t have detrimental effects on his or her voice. And the audience doesn’t have to enjoy everything a singer sings (and have perfect rights to honestly say it when a singer sounds awful singing something). You are absolutely right that nobody does everything excellently. There is nothing wrong with that. It is the notion that singers ought to be confined to certain repertoire because some audience/critics only like him/her in that style of music that I and others find hard to agree with, I think.

          As big a fan of Kasarova as I am, I have panned her in some of my reviews (notably her Offenbach CD), but I don’t begrudge that she sang those operetta arias at all. Perhaps she selects the music that she likes for her CDs. Perhaps she wants to challenge herself singing out of ‘home style’, so to speak. I think artists should be encouraged to explore and stretch themselves a little if only to keep their passion fresh… so long as they don’t hurt themselves by singing things that over-tax their voice. It’s a live and let live sort of thing. 🙂


  7. First of all, thank you for your interesting blog!
    to songesfluegel : if you do not like a singer, it is maybe better to give you own opinion and not to quote critics, who are most of the times blasé and express their own subjective impressions.
    I listened to the concert on the internet. I am not a germanist to evaluate the diction in german, but found the singing very moving and the voice beautiful and sensuous. I LOVE Kasarova. She is on of the greatest.


  8. listening is a always very subjective experience, and it makes judging voices very hard – even judging vocal technique isn’t as objective as we sometimes might like to believe. And perfect technique – always depending on a historically variable concept of singing technique – still doesn’t say anything about expression.
    so for any given performance, there will be different receptions, simply because we are different. There is niot one true opinion, but as many truths as tHere are listeners out there. Personally, I try to respect all of therm and I cherish the sheer variety of opinions.
    The only thing I ask for on this blog is that everyone treats the others’ opinions as well as the singers and voices in question with respect.


  9. I agree, it is interesting to have various and even contrasting opinions on a performance.
    with kind regards


  10. Thanks for showing so much empathy, Operasmorg! Well, yes in principle I fully agree: everybody should be allowed to perform what he/she wants as long as it does not hurt!
    In this very case (and again: I am just talking about part I) I am just saddened that such a good singer does not make the best out of the chance she has not only for herself (that’s of course entirely her business) and for her wonderful pianist but for music, too (that’s part of her responsibility, I believe…).

    Sorry again for making this a subject of discussion regarding one of your iconic figures. I should have done that with an instrumentalist not to be endangered to stir up too much emotion. My point was: music could benefit so much more with the right people doing the right repertoire (and we all know VK’s repertoire is *vast*) and I am quite sure that deep down inside they all know what suits them best, if not they most likely wouldn’t have achieved what they have.
    Well then, enjoy the 19th. I am sure it will be great!


  11. valid points, sangesfluegel, although I would add that judging what is best for a singer/voice does at least partly touch the subjective category of personal taste again (next to more objective criteria like intnation, diction, etc.).
    On repertory choices: during her book presentation, Kasarova made a point of having avoided Slavic repertory for a long time because she didn’t want to be pidgeonholed into that corner – “Slavic singer, needs to be a big, booming, dark Slavic voice, must be best in Slavic repertory”.
    That is something I can empathize with – it’s like being gay, working in gender studies and being good at it, but being reduced to it – “oh, he/she only works in this field because they’re gay” or “he/she is OF COURSE at home in this by ‘natural’ reasons”. And that’s got to be oppressive to an artist.

    That aside, I did wonder during this broadcast whether there are matters of native tongue/not native tongue in regards to the voice opening sooner or latter for a particular tone – e.g. would being native to a Slavic language make it, due to early age larynx formation, make it easier to have a more perfect sound control ( I mean the specific moment in between tipping onto and then opening a note, akin to the 0 to 100 in x seconds of a car, a time that naturally becomes longer with growing age) in Slavic repertory as opposed to repertory from another language family?
    Apart from general tessitura (Tchaikovsky was lower, I think) and phrase structure, that might be one point why the voice opened up more easily during the Tchaikovsky than during the Schumann in particular. That said, it isn’t notable (at least not prominently, I would have to relisten under that premise) during Kasarova’s early Schumann/Brahms recording (from 1999, I think). Any opinions on those?


    1. Yes I have but I won’t reveal my opinion here ( I’d like to stay alive for a while ;-). But jokes aside: I should listen again to the songs on her cd, though as far as I remember they are better than what we had to listen to in part I. Let’s face it: what she sang was not what is written in the score of Schumann and Brahms, though Charles Spencer did an wonderful job to balance this. I re-listened to part I again with the music sheets to be as objective as possible (and I would never quote and agree to a critic without having listened *very well* myself). I think it is an interesing subject to discuss how much the composers matter in music. I might be too old fashioned in thinking they matter *a lot*.
      That aside, too I would not really like to “reduce” this topic to the native tongue of a singer (and I know , Anik, you did not intend to do this, either), neither would I like to reduce my objections regarding her Schumann and Brahms “simply” to her voice. I am quite sure it is her musical approach that was just wonderful in part II, … . I know what she says regarding her Slavic roots it’s very cute of such a talented singer to say this and probably she is right in saying this, though every second of her Mozart proves that she does not really have to fear to be left in a certain corner. (I wonder how she’d do Mozart-Lieder….).
      Anyway, thanks, Anik for offering a space to different opinions, being articulated from different backgrounds which makes the whole thing very interesting.


    2. Funny, I was thinking the same thing about Mozart songs this morning!

      Voice vs. musical approach/applying of voice: point taken (and it’s a very good one, too!) and I agree.

      A fickle sub-point to ponder might be against what we measure the musical approach and whether we can call it “right” or wrong”/”less right”, or rather “to our taste” or “not to our taste” – and based on what.
      Is it, e.g. always the score – something I agree on for much of 19th ctry repertory – or could it be sometimes the style of the time has the authority (this is an issue not that much in German Lieder but much more in opera belcanto, where so many embellishments were assumed, hence never written into the score)?
      What would be more authentic? And is there such a thing as “truly authentic” or are we always influenced by the style of our own time, as well? (and would that automatically make things less “authentic”?)
      And how much do concepts of “authorship” possibly influence our readings (the composer as the sole creative genius (Beethoven!) vs. the composer as musical craftsman who counts on and invites variation/improvisation, vs. finally the singer as co-creator)?

      But none of that is about the Kasarova recital, really it’s just musings inspired by the discussion – so I’ll just shut up now and say thank you for the inspiration and for sharing your thoughts and opinions!


    3. Hiya again! Fascinating discussion, this. 🙂

      Have any of you read Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s Musical Dialogues and Phillip Gossett’s Divas and Scholars ( http://press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/304825.html )?

      The question of authenticity in classical/operatic performances and how exactly can one be certain of what long dead composers really envisioned their work to be/sound seems one that is very difficult to answer (the answer seems different for different eras and composers and even ‘the score’ is not an absolutely trustworthy final word on things… some scores are more reflective of what the composer intended than others). Not being a musicologist (or a professional musician, for that matter), I find it best to just take in each performance as it is given without trying to interpolate a sort of universal standard on to it. I think most classical performers today are doing their best to bring to life what composers put into the score, but even when they are trying to not ‘interpret’, they are still interpreting, and sometime it is hard to tell where the composer’s vision ends and the performer’s beings.

      Anyhow! Thanks a bunch, everyone, for stimulating (and very civil) discussion! 😀 Call me immodest, but I do think the white shirts are really good at not living up to the popular perception that opera fans can’t disagree without biting each others’ head off. 😉 Hope everyone is having a good start to the weekend!


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