Christian Gehrer or the ultimate art of public speaking

Invité du Festival de Zermatt pour le concert d’ouverture et deux récitals, Christian Gerhaher développe pour nous son intérêt pour la musique du compositeur suisse Otmar Schoeck, en plus de revenir sur son répertoire et sur l’importance de la musique le musique current.

FifthShe sang in the hall at the D Festival Zermatt lament After recording it recently, how did you discover Ottmar Schöck’s music?

Christian Gehrer: I discovered the composer at a modern music festival twenty years ago, when I was asked to sing the course with the string quartet. Notornowhich I felt the same, lament : These cool pieces got me hooked. I couldn’t stop listening to them and thinking about them as I worked on them, because the style of speech there is so special. After two phonemes of Germanic reference in the nineteenth century, which are for me Schumann first and then Wagner, I think a third method appeared in the twentieth century with Otmar Schöck, with a musical technique particularly borne out by words, that of Nicholas Lenau, the poet he adored. Moreover, Schoeck above all chose poems in which the artist showed himself devastated by death.

In these poems, Linau cannot assume that this will happen and uses lyrical themes that arise from other angles such as nature, dead leaves or birds, always returning to this fundamental, unanswered question regarding the end of existence. in Notornoin the center of the piece, particularly establishes this idea in a breathless manner of speech, which means that you must not really stop, not completely, not definitively … Writing then is always non-committal, purely syllabic, syllable equal to tone, somewhat similar to Claude’s tone Debussy in France, another master of rhetoric in this century.

RM: elegy Sometimes compared to Winterries Schubert, who presented it on the same day in Switzerland during a second concert?

CG: This is the third time I sing lament In this version with the piano, the second I collect with him Winterries. It can be risky, but I like the idea, which gives a new horizon to the Schubert cycle. After Fischer-Dieskau retired in 1992, it was a way to sing winter trip I changed and took so much freedom, which saddens me a bit, because this wonderful work should not be so shocking, that it preserves its whole atmosphere without distortion. For my part, I try to deliver all the emotion by staying as close to the text as possible, and even if I am already told it is well sung but not always very touching, I am looking for the opposite to take on this work without adding what for me is mere undue influences.

RM: I saved lament For the Sony Classical in its version for chamber orchestra and vocals and singing in Zermatt only with piano, in a distinctly different way, which is also undoubtedly elevated by the acoustics of the Riffelalp Chapel?

CG: We recorded work with Heinz Holliger and Basel Orchestra in March 2020 at the start of confinement, as it was no longer possible to tour, as was first planned. We trained on it for a long time, so we decided to engrave it, and we found a lot of beauty in it. Harmony is great, but the piece written like almost every Schoeck lie for Felix Löffel is made for a baritone with a very low sound, which isn’t a problem for a baritone higher in the range, like I am, but compels me to find chromatic differences in a reduced register, and is often carried over towards the bass.

This narrow song creates a pressure on the sound, in which it is very interesting to succeed in developing new colors, for which the piano becomes ideal compared to the orchestra, because it is a monochromatic instrument that accompanies you and leaves the possibility of spreading everything. The multicolor identity of your voice. With the orchestra, which in itself brings musical versatility, you have to reduce your approach and change the dynamics. This is also why this piece is difficult to sing in its version with the orchestra, especially on its very soft parts. At the Riffelalp, the piano combined with the perfect mountain church acoustics allowed me to express all these ideas wonderfully.

RM: So we know you Notorno And the lamentAre you interested in other Schoeck courses?

CG: I haven’t been able to learn more yet, but it’s now one of my priorities for the end of my career, in particular Lebendig Begraben (buried alive). As mentioned earlier, Schoeck always composed his songs for his friend Felix Löffel, who had real technique, but not a very good voice. So when he heard Dietrich Fischer-Diskau in action, he discovered how his score could be sung in such a wonderful way, with the quality of a wonderful oratory. So I want to take this course soon to try to bring the same purity to it, as well as to discover the opera better, because I know above all else Penticillia Unfortunately, there’s really no role for me.

RM: As for the song, you are mostly accompanied by Gerold Hopper, with whom we feel a perfect cohesion. Is it important to you that this partner is so close and how do you work at rehearsal?

CG : We hardly speak. Gerold Huber was one of the most beautiful encounters of my life and with him I immediately felt the possibility not to focus on the exercise for coordination, but rather on getting immediately closer to form, sound and colour. Il était malade cette année et je suis très heureux qu’il soit revenu à son meilleur, pour m’accompagner ainsi que d’autres chanteurs, bien que je doive admettre avoir une très, avequicente ducinôre years. This is so much more than an artistic collaboration and I don’t know how I would sing songs without it, or if I would continue to sing a lot. When he plays, I like his intensity and calmness to keep a line, allowing me to develop vocals and dynamics as I want, without overexposure to the piano.

RM: We mainly talked about the Schoeck and so we kept focusing on the Germanic repertoire, obviously the ones you sing the most, but you also get to beat at times. Would you consider opening it again, especially through a less dark business?

CG: I sang some Italian opera, Mozart or Simon Bocanegra by Verdi, which I will resume soon, and I also really like the French melody. Unfortunately, French is very complex and forces me to learn a very long process, but I like Debussy, Forrey and Berlioz and want to develop their business. And then I got pregnant already BellasBut now I have to get really close to Gollud.

So we stay in the dark art, but how exactly do we define it? If we take Kafka for example, he is very famous for the darkness of his works; It was known that with his friend Max Brod, during public readings, he used a real sense of humor and often laughed. Seriousness and darkness do not contradict laughter and joy, and this is also the case with Cozy fan berries ! Also thanks to this, we create a distance on objects, which is necessary.

RM: To stay in the dark thoughts, classical music continues to suffer from the epidemic with an audience that is more difficult to capture than before, what is your vision for its future?

CG: The pandemic has been very difficult for everyone, but it has been even more difficult for artists who live than concerts. Restrictions have affected musical life for a long time and may reduce the number of classical music performances forever. I recently had a public discussion with German politicians, where the Minister of Culture told me ” We stayed with our old world, while they were moving forwardThis really shocked me and wanted the thousands of concerts in front of hundreds of thousands of living people not from the ancient world, but the present.

I know that songs concern a very small and perhaps increasingly small part of the population, but we must continue to wear and promote them, because art is not just a hobby, as some politicians believe today: it is a necessity for the well-being of mankind. It brings not only feelings but also thought, so we have to fight to keep making classical music appealing in its greatest aspect, and the less it tries to be just entertainment, the more it survives. Serious doesn’t mean no humor or not incorporating all feelings, but it means staying on a high level of intelligence, which is very important for our society.

Image credits: © Credit: David Parry/PA Wire (recitation) and © Olivier Maire (Zermatt Show)

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