At its easiest, the Houston Symphony’s Schumann Pageant has given native audiences a stirring choice to the paper-thin sentiment and cliché-ridden, hypercommercialized programming that passes for love this time of 12 months.
However this, indisputably, is what so-called Romantic tune is all about — infatuation, heartbreak, roses becoming folks. The Hallmark Channel has no concept what it’s lacking.
Schumann was once a capital-R Romantic in each and every sense of the phrase, pouring each and every closing emotion into his tune and burning as brightly with love as any individual ever has. Thursday’s orchestra-free live performance positioned his vocal tune entrance and heart for a night of “Intimate Songs and Grand Choruses.”
It all started with “Dichterliebe,” or “Poet’s Love.” Written in 1840 however unpublished till 4 years later, Schumann’s 1840 tune cycle configures the poetry of Heinrich Heine right into a bittersweet portrait of a besotted younger guy who turns to nature to precise “my longing and want” even though, if truth be told, he comes no nearer to his would-be loved than a dream.
Embodying this deficient soul was once Houston Grand Opera Studio tenor Richard Trey Smagur, who gave memorable, if transient, turns in contemporary productions of “The Flying Dutchman” and “L. a. bohéme.” Blessed with a powerful, amber tone and dynamic vary, his voice boiled over with hobby from time to time, but in addition grew so heavy with grief it was once nearly inaudible, as though making a song any louder would merely be too painful.
Smagur’s saddest moments have been most likely his maximum robust.
In all probability essentially the most arresting got here within the deliciously darkish last tune, through which the agitated singer necessarily dictated directions for his funeral till his voice collapsed right into a heap of defeat and humiliation. Pianist Alex Munger’s measured, lovelorn accompaniment made for a unswerving and soothing better half, however a few times gave the impression as regardless that it may be mocking the singer — as though to mention, ‘Critically, guy?’
And if Heine’s language may well be bit overwrought — Smagur sang of establishing a coffin for his ache better than the Heidelberg Tun, which Mark Twain as soon as known as “a wine-cask as giant as a cottage” — it was once no sappier than the typical Valentine’s Day card.
Any angst left over from “Dichterliebe” dissipated in the second one part, which was once devoted to the Houston Symphony Refrain’s efficiency of “Der Rose Pilgerfahrt,” or “The Pilgrimage of the Rose.”
Extra of a sung narrative poem than a tune cycle, “Pilgrimage” follows a unmarried rose’s fairy-guided adventure into the world of guys, the place she learns to enjoy love by means of dwelling as an followed daughter, a spouse, and in any case a mom. All soloists have been drafted from the refrain, performed by means of HCC director Betsy Prepare dinner Weber; pliant sopranos Grace Roman and Anna Diemer break up the function of Rose, whilst Sean Jackson’s comforting tenor made him a personable narrator.
The 70-minute piece was once a dinner party of beautiful melodies — ethereal and vibrant right through the fairy dances, musky and jovial right through a male refrain extolled the virtues of the wooded area, joyous and excited right through a past due wedding ceremony scene. Different choruses reached Zen-like ranges of tranquility. A lot credit score will have to additionally pass to Houston Symphony important keyboardist Scott Holshouser, whose accompaniment was once soothing as a babbling brook one second, fanciful and animated the following.
In the end Rose comes to realize one thing the faeries aren’t reasonably provided to show her: the price of sacrifice. Schumann’s poignant last scene, through which the angels welcome Rose into heaven, underscores as soon as once more an very important feature of his tune: the place there may be love, some ache will have to even be shut to hand.
Chris Grey is a Houston-based author.