Oct 15, 2021
“This was the sort of exemplar material one might find in a masterclass, and highlighted perfectly how Damrau brings her operatic character-portrayal experience to the party in chamber recitals. […]
At a broad level, the composers and works were contrasted […] but even within these broad stylistic differences, there was plenty of variation, and Damrau, with physical gesture, facial expression, and perfectly controlled vocal texture, delivered each one as an intelligently considered, exquisitely presented gift.
It’s as a coloratura soprano that Damrau is best known onstage, and one might have expected some big notes. True to her intelligent approach, though, she opted to respect the more intimate material, and let these out only rarely – even then with appropriate restraint. She produced some glorious examples of tightly controlled high notes (“I could… but I won’t”) in Duparc’s L’invitation and Le manoir… , and in Strauss’ Allerseelen; the just tapped top note in Süsser Freund was magnificent. There was no shortage of power through intensity, though, as was demonstrated in the sulky, declamatory approach to Schumann’s Nun hast du… or the quietly expansive delivery of the bittersweet emotion in Duparc’s Chanson triste.”
“Languid and luxuriating in the music, Damrau sang in a highly characterful way. Unlike some singers in Duparc, it wasn’t so much the ‘luxe, calme et volupté’ of the voice as what Damrau actually did with it that counted. Extase was intimate and full of character, we really believed it, whilst Le manoir de Rosemonde was strong and intense. Soupir was highly emoted and emotional, so much in such a small song, whilst Chanson triste was very much in the moment. Damrau and Pikulski’s way with Duparc was not necessarily the usual one, approaching the songs more as character pieces, sketches of emotion, rather than moments of gorgeousness to be simply luxuriated in.”
“She’s a wonderful actress as well as singer, and sometimes lengthened the pauses between songs so she could transform the mood through a change in look and demeanour. The starkest change came before the last song, where breathless excitement gives way to stony grief at the beloved’s death, a change Damrau registered eloquently before a note had been sung.
The erotic strain that lay under the surface in Schumann’s songs shone out with full force in the set of songs by Henri Duparc that followed, tinged with a lovely sunset melancholy. In Soupir (“Sigh”), that luxuriant flaring of the tone that is Damrau’s trademark took on a different emotional hue, as the lover thinks of his beloved but finds that he’s only embracing a void.”
“L’interprétation en déploie la matière sonore solide mais avec de grandes nuances, passionnées. Toute l’étendue vocale est rayonnante, surtout dans les aigus mais le medium est aussi électrique et plein de chaleur. Même pour cette tessiture de soprano, les graves ont une vraie présence. Toute la voix donne ainsi l’impression de s’écouler naturellement sans le moindre effort.”
“Diana Damrau avait concocté un programme composé de pièces de Henri Duparc, Robert Schumann, Enrique Granados, Joaquin Turina, Fernando Obradors et Richard Strauss. Tout ne fut qu’amour, tendresse et fragilité. Paroles de femmes amoureuses. C’est une Diana Damrau émouvante, pleine de retenue que le public bordelais ovationna.”