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A voice, a piano and a poetic scene

By Maria Gregoriou

The Pharos Arts Foundation and the Goethe Institut Zypern will present a Lieder Recital with contralto Gerhild Romberger and pianist Manuel Lange on Saturday in Nicosia.

Romerger and Lange will perform Robert Schumann’s Liederkreis, 12 songs for voice and piano, Op. 39 and Eight Songs for voice and piano, Op. 57 (1871) and Zwei Gesänge for alto, viola and piano, Op. 91 both by Johannes Brahms.

Schumann described his Liederkreis, Op. 39 song cycle (which was written in 1840) as “my most Romantic music ever”. The poems were taken from Joseph Eichendorff’s collection entitled Intermezzo. The texts are all set outdoors and often have direct references to nature, a typical Romantic concept. The songs are also highly Romantic in their expressive disposition, whether that expression is to do with melancholy, the mysterious or the supernatural.

Written in 1871, the Eight Songs, Op. 57, are all based on texts by Georg Friedrich Daumer, whose poems are linked by passion and sensuality, with little of the pastoral contemplation found in other texts chosen by Brahms. Op. 91 comprises the only two obbligato that Brahms composed. The songs were most likely written for Amalie Joachim, who gave up a promising career on the operatic stage when she married the famous violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim in 1863. They are believed to have been composed as a gift to the couple for the birth of their first child.

The voice which will bring these romantic pieces to the audience belongs to one of leading classical singers in Germany.

Romberger studied at the Academy of Music in Detmold. As a mezzo-soprano she has always concentrated on concert performances, her work focusing on Lieder recitals on a wide variety of themes, as well as on contemporary music. Her extremely extensive repertoire encompasses all the major contralto and mezzo-soprano parts in the oratorio and concert literature of the Baroque, the Classical and Romantic periods, all the way through to the 20th century.

Her recent career highlights include concerts with Manfred Honeck, who invited her to perform in, among other works, Mahler’s symphonies, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and the Grosse Messe by Walter Braunfels. In addition, she has collaborated with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Joining her on the piano is Lange, who studied with Oleg Maisenberg in Stuttgart and Hans Leygraf in Salzburg and Berlin. During his studies, Lange won a number of prestigious prizes for his piano playing.

Following a six-year residence as solo répétiteur at Berlin’s Komische Oper, he began, in 2005, working as a Song Repertoire Professor at the Berlin University of the Arts. In July 2010 he was appointed Professor of Lied Accompaniment and Lied Composition at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold.

In 2006, he collaborated with baritone Sebastian Noack in founding the Meisterlied Concert Series in Berlin, which is primarily dedicated to the German Romantic Lied.

The pianist has appeared in concert with such renowned singers as Anne Schwanewilms, Mojca Erdmann, Maria Bengtsson, and Sibylla Rubens, amongst others, in venues such as the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Dresden Semperoper, La Scala in Milan, the Opéra Comique in Paris, and the Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona, and in festivals such as Baden-Baden, Ruhrtriennale, Autumn Music Days in Bad Urach.

If you would like to listen to Lange on the piano before the concert, or even after, the recording label Capriccio has released a CD featuring him accompanying soprano Anne Schwanewilms on Schumann’s Liederkreis Op. 39 and the Mörike Lieder by Hugo Wolf.

Violist Diemut Poppen will also be sharing the stage with the two artists.

Lieder Recital
The Pharos Arts Foundation presents a performance by Gerhild Romberger and Manuel Lange. March 21. The Shoe Factory, 304 Ermou Street, Nicosia. 8.30pm. €15/10. Tel: 22-663871

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