An Evening of Snow, Ice, Frozen Tears, and Heterosexual Treachery

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
The distinguished Tenor Mark Padmore, and poetic Pianist Mitsuko Uchida appeared in a joint recital on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, at the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia under the auspices of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Both artists interpreted Franz Schubert’s landmark vocal work Winterreise, D. 911.  
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) wrote his famed song cycle Winterreise (Winter Journey) D. 911 in 1827, a year before he died. Set to the poems of Wilhelm Mueller (1794-1827), we learn of a youth who arrived in a village, probably worked for the miller (he appears to have lived in their house), became his daughter’s fiance, only to be dropped for a wealthier suitor. We join him as he leaves in the dead of night, a cold, snowy night, without food and nowhere to go. Clearly, this youth was not thinking clearly, was emotionally overwrought, and would doubtless end badly sooner than later. The twenty-four songs had titles such as Frozen tears, Numbness, Flood (The cold flakes thirstily drink | My burning anguish.) and Last hope
Unrelenting and inexorable, Mr. Padmore sang these heartbreaking, aching songs with panache and emotional truth. He was truly amazing. The estimable Ms. Uchida proved to be a magnificent partner in this exploration of a young man’s heartbreak. At every turn, she uncovered numerous beauties and astonishing revelations for the listener. 
Distinguished educator and seasoned charmer Jonathan Coopersmith held a pre-concert talk shining a light upon this evening’s work. It was held in the beautiful Hamilton Garden, atop the Kimmel Center. One of the most beautiful rooftop gardens in Philadelphia, it soothed the fevered minds of its listeners to great effect. I hope it is used more often for pre-concert talks. 
Mr. Padmore and Ms. Uchida chose to perform  Winterreise without intermission, and without pause, resulting in all twenty-four songs being uninterrupted, in an intense performance lasting seventy minutes without intermission. We hope that this worked best for the artists. For many in the audience, however, it proved to be monumentally intense. We had no time to reflect or digest what proved to be a terrifying journey into sadness, grief, and perhaps insanity or death. 
In any case, the sold-out house for this performance was riveted to their seats by the performance. The audience exploded into acclaim for the brilliance of the two stars. All hoped for the swift return of this remarkable duo. 
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society continues its current season with many more concerts. Scheduled to appear are famed tenor Matthew Polenzani with pianist Julius Drake, pianist Emanuel Ax, and many others. 
Next season has already been announced and will begin in the Fall of 2024. 

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