Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Liederfest for the New Year

Musicians Heidi Moss Erickson, Ronny Michael Greenberg, and Kindra Scharich (above) and composers Kurt Erickson, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Mark Carlson (below), courtesy of LIEDER ALIVE!

2018 will be the year of the second concert in the Neue und Alte Liederfest biannual series presented by LIEDER ALIVE! As the title suggests, this will be a program of new and old art song involving both solos and duets. The vocalists for this occasion will be soprano Heidi Moss Erickson and mezzo Kindra Scharich, accompanied by Ronny Michael Greenberg at the piano. The “new” side of the program will consist primarily of three world premieres, each by a different composer: Kurt Erickson, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Mark Carlson. The “old” side will be firmly rooted in the nineteenth century, in tradition if not in actual date of composition.

Much of the program has been structured around “new thinking” applied to poems set by earlier composers. Thus, Erickson’s setting of Joseph Eichendorff’s poem “Mondnacht” (moonlit night), which is not his world premiere contribution, will be preceded by Robert Schumann’s setting of the same text for the fifth song in his Opus 39 Liederkreis. Note that Schumann composed Opus 39 in 1840, known as his Liederjahr (“year of song”) because of the large number of songs he composed over the course of that year. This set will be introduced by Johannes Brahms’ setting of Ludwig Christoph Heinrich Hölty’s “Die Mainacht” (May night), the second of his Opus 43 collection of four songs. All three of these songs will be sung by Scharich.

Woolf’s world premiere will be a setting of Otto Julius Bierbaum’s poem “Traum durch die Dämmerung” (dream in the twilight); and it will be preceded by settings of the same poem by both Richard Strauss (the first of his three Opus 29 songs) and Max Reger (the third of his six Opus 35 songs). Similarly, Carlson’s premiere will be a setting of Eduard Mörike’s “An die Geliebte” (to the beloved); and it will be preceded by Hugo Wolf’s setting of the same text, the 32nd of his Mörike-Lieder. The set will begin with what may well have been the first song cycle to be composed, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 98 An die ferne Geliebte (to the distant beloved). All of these settings will be sung by Moss Erickson.

Erickson’s world premiere will be a duet that will be performed by both Moss Erickson and Scharich. It is a setting of August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben’s poem “Abschiedslied der Zugvogel” (the farewell song of the migratory bird). This same text was also set as a duet by Felix Mendelssohn as the second of his Opus 63 collection of six duets. Duet performances will also be given of Johannes Brahms’ “Die Schwestern” (the sisters), the first of his Opus 61 collection of four duets, and two songs by Schumann, “An den Abendstern” (to the evening star) from the Mädchenlieder (songs of a maiden) song cycle (Opus 103) and “Erste Begegnung” (often called “From the Rosebush” in English after the text’s first line), the first song in the Spanisches Liederspiel song cycle (Opus 74).

There will be one remaining set involving a contemporary composer working with an earlier composer’s song text. The text is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Nähe des Geliebten” (near the beloved), which was set by Franz Schubert as his D. 162 song. Schubert’s setting will be followed by a recent version by Henry Mollicone. Both of these versions will be sung by Moss Erickson. They will be preceded by Schumann’s setting of the same poem from his Opus 78 set of four duets.

This performance will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 14. The venue will the Noe Valley Ministry at 1021 Sanchez Street, between 23rd Street and Elizabeth Street. Single tickets will be $40 at the door with a $20 discounted rate for students, seniors, and working artists. If purchased in advance, the prices will be $75 for reserved seating and $35 for general admission. An Eventbrite Web page has been created for advance purchase. Those interested in advance purchase may also call LIEDER ALIVE! at 415-561-0100.

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