Anne Sofie von Otter at the Sheldonian Theatre

 

A review by Nicholas Newman

Anne Sofie von Otter at the Sheldonian Theatre
Anne Sofie von Otter at the Sheldonian Theatre

As part of the Oxford Festival of the Arts, I saw last night at the Sheldonian Theatre Oxford internationally acclaimed Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter is one of the most recorded artists of our day, with an extensive number of recordings spanning over three decades. In this recital, she is joined on the fortepiano by world-renowned keyboard artist Kristian Bezuidenhout, a regular guest with the world’s leading ensembles.

They began with a group of Mozart’s best-known songs, followed by two solo piano works by Franz Schubert, and his stunning flower-ballad ‘Viola’. After the interval, we hear songs by two of Sweden’s leading Romantic composers, both contemporaries of Schubert, though they long outlived him: Adolf Lindbald (1801-1878) and Franz Berwald (1796-1868). And finally, these two extraordinary artists return to Schubert himself, with the ‘Andante molto’ from the E flat piano sonata D568, and a group of songs.

Oxford Festival of  the Arts
Oxford Festival of  the Arts

Kristian Bezuidenhout played on a copy of an 1822 piano made in Vienna by Conrad Graf. It was built by Rodney Regier in 1989 in the USA, and revised by Edwin Beunk & Johan Wennink in 2002. It is in the collection of Edwin Beunk in Enschede, in the Netherlands. It will be transported to the UK especially for this concert and their performance at Aldeburgh.

As for the performance, I felt some of the songs performed were more suitable for a younger voice, and it did not help the lack of air conditioning and very uncomfortable seats in this old building, made it difficult to enjoy the performance.

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