Tuesday, January 29 in the Amarillo College Concert Hall Theatre, a lucky audience of approximately fifty was treated to a tour-de-force of vocal and piano virtuosity in a performance of Schubert’s “Winterreise” in its twenty-four song, hour-and-a-half entirety.
Vocal soloist was German tenor Richard Resch, whose upcoming concert schedule over the next three months includes performances in Augsburg, Germany, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
He has performed with the Bavarian State Opera and the roster of conductors with whom he’s worked includes the world-renown Christoph Eschenbach.
Dr. Diego Caetano of AC was the pianist, which in this composition is in a duet rather than accompaniment capacity, and whose score represents the mood of the composer.
And, that mood was indeed dark and despondent as Schubert, suffering from a terminal disease, set this cycle of twenty-four poems by Wilhelm Muller to music. The composer would finish proofing the score only days before his death.
The narrative of the poems is a young man with a broken heart fleeing lost love in winter: hence “Winterreise” or winter travels. Everything he sees and feels, from the cold, to a weather vane to a leafless Linden tree remind him of happier days and reinforces his present desperate loneliness.
Yet, beyond the heartache, “Winterreise” becomes an allegory of life. Destined for death and beyond the ken of medical science, Schubert involves the listener in his suffering.
As one artist noted, “You have to be haunted by this work to sing it.” For the audience, Prozac might have helped because there ain’t no warm fuzzies here!
On a positive note, the effect of this work on German Lieder remains immense. The vocal and emotional demands of the piece make it, for tenors, a musical Matterhorn.
But climb it with seeming facility was what Richard Resch, along with fellow artistic alpinist Diego Caetano did on Tuesday night. And we, the audience, were enraptured by what we heard despite the downward trajectory of the music’s mood.
We thank Richard, who made a first trip to the states just to add to the cultural conundrum that is the Panhandle. Also, our abiding gratitude remains with Diego, who has so enriched our lives with the international artists he has brought our way.
For a sizable crowd to hear a work as rarefied as “Winterreise” attests to the anomaly of the fine arts here in cowboy country. That’s why we can proudly say, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!