...hear a more beautiful and more captivating 'Winterreise' than yesterday's, of Alice Coote and Julius Drake?
It was a near overwhelming experience. It was all I had hoped for and expected, but then so much more. And I can't help it, but she made me love her in many ways. So many thoughts and feelings, how can I find the words to do justice?
I should try to leave out many superlatives - already enough of them above, I think - and try to give a more sober account. I'm afraid it will become unreadable otherwise.
There was a wonderful and unexpected start to the evening, when I arrived more than an hour early at Wigmore Hall (thanks to the cooperation of London traffic) and Alice Coote was still rehearsing behind the door of the hall. So I sat next to the door and enjoyed a taste of what was to come of singing and piano. There was a moment of funny disturbance when an employee asked me to get up so that he could light the lamp. Yes, it was a gas lamp. Made me think of Albus in PS.
I feel I had one of the best seats, it was only six or seven meter away from her, saw her en profile (seat was on the side of the podium, with no other seats in front) and could see her every emotion, every frown, every swallow, even single drops of perspiration. This added so much to the singing and it left me with a feeling of deep admiration for how utterly absorbed she was in what she sung. She WAS the poet, no doubt, with all his pain, loneliness, moments of madness. It was unavoidable to get a feeling for how much impact it was having on her. She often shook with emotion.
Giving herself like she did - and that was very much what I was hoping for, when I went to see her - it's clear to me, that only a very special and courageous person can do that. That's probably the aspect what gripped me most: that she is willing to give herself fully for a small hall with people and, perhaps more important, for a meaningful "piece of music".
"Giving all" by an extremely talented and motivated woman as she obviously is, sitting so close, I could see how very much "all" is in her case. I don't know exactly how to say it, but when she gives all, it is WAY more than almost anybody else would be able to give. She must be a rare talent and rarely devoted and it was humbling as well as an honour to sit so close and be able to see her do it.
So, there was her wonderful and highly expressive interpretation, but she also has a really very beautiful voice, with so much depth, richness, range, variation, power. How to avoid superlatives here? I think Alice Coote has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard and in such a small hall, where there is no place to hide, neither for her, nor for the public, you notice it all the more. And she can sing very, very soft and very, very loud and in so many different voices...yet it will always remain beautiful, caressing your ears.
There is more , of course. Where I had only seen her performing male roles in opera, as herself she is clearly feminine. Dark-blond hair, length just below her shoulder-blades, simple make-up, simple yet beautiful dress (black tunic with a white pattern and some glitter on the chest, a bit African in style; and a soft, tight, grey pant), beautiful laced, dark grey suede boots, very high heels, alike the red ones in Kelly's icon. I don't think she used any jewelry. If she's feminine, she seems yet a strong and unconventional woman and she appears far from being vain. It looked to me she is "in it" for the music, the singing, not for the fame. She seems genuinely nice also, though that was perhaps hard to judge.
The pianist, Julius Drake was great too, but I saw him on his back (which meant that Alice looked many times partially towards the side we sat, so I saw much more than just the side of her face). He played very beautiful, controlled, emotional, never intrusive but holding his own against her. It felt like they had a very good relation.
At the end, after the last note, in a flash you saw her drain completely and he got up at once, hurried towards her and embraced her. Not a formal 'well done' hug, but she needed catching, figuratively, and then she snapped out of it and was 'back'. It was a relief to see him do that and it was logical that for a moment she was 'kaput'. After he let her go, she still needed a minute to regain herself, before she opened up to the public and the applause could start. Special moments, confirming what I said about giving all.
Well, you can guess it was a rather emotional evening. It was special. It was wonderful. I wished I could see her again on Saturday.
That's impossible, so today I ordered her CD with songs of Mahler, among others. :)
I don't think what I wrote above does at all capture the beauty and the emotion of the evening. I'm sorry if it has become far too long, but there was also so much that I noticed and a lot isn't even told...
Whatever, but Alice Coote made clear that she must be one of the great Mezzo's of this moment and I am so very, very happy that i could see her live, at least this once!
The evening has been recorded for the Wigmore Hall Live label, so it should be available in due time. Will cost about fifteen pound.
BBC-radio program - can be listened until 30th Jan. or so - including three live songs from Winterreise by Alice Coote/Julius Drakehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019m320