Christoph Eschenbach & Matthias Goerne | Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival | Classical | Chicago Reader

Christoph Eschenbach & Matthias Goerne Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Mon., July 27, 8 p.m., Wed., July 29, 8 p.m. and Fri., July 31, 8 p.m. 2009

Nobody inhabits the narrative of a song cycle more thoroughly than German baritone Matthias Goerne, though the arresting beauty of his voice can distract the listener from the great artistry behind it. Goerne relishes the sparks that come from shifting between musical partners, and he’s teamed with some extraordinary pianists, including Brendel, Ashkenazy, Aimard, and Andsnes. Christoph Eschenbach, every bit their peer as an accompanist, joins Goerne for a three-concert series devoted to the three Schubert song cycles, in which the composer distilled his writing to perfection. First is Die Schöne Müllerin, set to 20 poems by Wilhelm Müller. In Goerne’s interpretation the harrowing descent it depicts— from yearning to obsession to suicide—is even darker than Schubert’s later song cycle Winterreise (performed at the second concert), and in an enthralling recent recording with Eschenbach he delivers the optimism of the early songs with a hint of instability. Winterreise is the pinnacle of his writing for voice. This “winter journey” is a cry of anguish, arguably the greatest song cycle ever written. The final concert (Fri 7/31) pairs Schwanengesang—not intended as a cycle by Schubert, it was assembled posthumously by his publisher and contains some striking individual songs—with the transcendent Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960. This series is a real coup for Ravinia—the only Goerne recitals in the U.S. this year—and an absolute treasure for lied lovers. —Steve Langendorf

Price: $10-$40

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