Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Deutschland hat Talent

July 10, 2007

Thomas Quasthoff
Photo: Wolfgang Reese 2007

Hey, remember that gut with the bad teeth who won that TV competition for singing a crappy off-key Nessun Dorma which accidentally exacerbated everyone’s corneal abrasions thereby making them cry involuntarily as if moved by emotion? Me neither.

Meanwhile, Munich takes a breather from opera on Monday for someone who actually can sing quite well, thank you very much – Thomas Quasthoff. His solo recital at the Nationaltheater included an all-Schumann program starting out with Dichterliebe, and followed after the intermission with Der arme Peter, Belsazar, and Liederkreis op. 24. His tone is wonderful and the show was very well received. I thought he and accompanist, Justus Zeyen, weren’t entirely on the same page in the beginning, but it may just be me. However, any small issues quickly righted themselves and the rest of the program was superb. Part of the issue may also be that I have become spoiled by the Disney Hall’s acoustics, which makes it feel like everyone is performing right next to you, and even in this beautiful venue, the room sounds a little cave-like at times. Granted I was also disoriented at the moment from having just come from the incredible classical music store in Ludwig Beck that nearly put me into shock after Tower’s demise last year. Ludwig Beck puts Tower’s classical stores to shame even at their best.

Of course, Quasthoff demonstrated his typical wit and charm. What makes him the true heir to performer's like Fischer-Dieskau is his ability to connect with an audience both within and without the context of the songs themselves. Quasthoff also noted at the beginning of the performance that he is involved in starting a new annual Lieder performance competition here in Munich that will start in 2009 to help preserve what he believes is an endangered art.

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