Concert review: On Valentine's Day, husband and wife team take on theme of unrequited love
How did you spend your Valentine's Day evening? Was it at an expensive restaurant and with overpriced roses in the company of someone you were hoping to impress, or in the company of the music of Franz Schubert? The Austrian composer was one of the great Romantics, for whom Fate dealt a bad hand in a tragically short life. His Lieder and song cycles dwelled on love, but he was not to enjoy its fruits.
His 1823 cycle Die Schone Mullerin (The Fair Maid Of The Mill) comprising 20 songs after poetry by Wilhelm Muller was about young love, unrequited and rebuffed, leading ultimately to despair and suicide. Not quite the stuff for courting couples, but given the chemistry between the husband and wife team of tenor Alan Bennett and pianist Choi Hye-Seon, one could be easily persuaded.
The concert at the School of the Arts began with two solo Impromptus (from Op. 90) performed by Choi. The rippling right-hand figurations over which lyricism ruled supreme provided a prelude to the exquisite hour and a bit to follow, besides allowing late-comers to settle in their seats.
Bennett possesses an unusually bright and youthful voice, one with a clear ring in the topmost registers, belying his hefty physical stature. Singing completely from memory and not fettered with a score, he was able to convey myriad moods and emotions by communicating directly at the audience.