Winning combos: Coote, Drake, & Schubert

Winning combos: Coote, Drake, & Schubert

Vivian Darkbloom

Alice Coote and Julius Drake are unmistakably masters of their generation, both brilliant refined artists with international careers and plenty of experience behind them. I was very excited to see them in concert together, in the beautiful venue of the Wigmore Hall. As performers, they didn’t disappoint, though there were some musical choices I may not have agreed with. Overall, it was an evening of beautiful work from both performers and a recital that I enjoyed very much.

I was surprised by the programme - a list of all of Schubert’s Greatest Hits compiled into one concert. I would have loved to hear something different, something a little unusual. All the songs were presented beautifully but I would have liked quite a lot more variety. Admittedly, all-Schubert recitals aren’t really my favourite thing at the best of times and I do like to hear a song or two I didn’t already know.

The recital didn’t start off perfectly. Particularly, Alice Coote seemed a little vocally inconsistent, beginning with An den Mond D259 and Wandrers Nachtlied I. She hit her stride by the fifth song, a beautiful and playful rendition of An Silvia. Julius Drake joined her sense of humor and play, making it a beautiful moment in the program. I also loved her Nacht und Träume, sung with a great tenderness and a sense of beautiful expansiveness. Drake shone particularly in these delicate and intimate songs, touching the piano with a trademark softness that was extraordinary. Their Ganymed was also wonderful, with a sense of dramatic arch and musical intensity that told the story beautifully.

They finished the first half with a stirring rendition of Erlkönig, a song which Coote navigated with a wonderful array of vocal colours and a beautiful sense of drama. Drake created a gorgeous picture of the dramatic song through the energy of his playing, the pair bringing to life the scene in an intense and visceral way.

The second half of the programme was even more beautiful than the first. I particularly loved the performance of Der Zwerg, another dramatic and spectacular ballad, full of pain and emotion. Du bist die Ruh also really stood out in the programming, a gorgeous and tender rendition of a heart-wrenching song. The audience as held spellbound by the power of these two spectacular performers right until the end, and even after, with a gorgeous encore of the classic, An die Musik.

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