Music review: Ian Bostridge
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Ian Bostridge at Usher Hall, reviewed by David Kettle
A kazoo was probably the last thing anyone expected English tenor Ian Bostridge to produce in his EIF recital. But as he whipped it from his pocket to buzz his way through Ives’s Memories (it’s normally hummed), it seemed just the right match for his vivid vocal accounts of the five pithy, witty songs by the iconoclastic American composer with which he opened his topsy-turvy programme. The touching Remembrance provided the ideal setting for the singer’s remarkable tonal colours, and he tackled the helter-skelter “1, 2, 3” with mischievous verve.
After that, though, things got serious – and in the weighty, dark-hued Brahms Lieder und Gesänge op.32 that followed, Bostridge’s charming lyric tenor seemed rather out of place. Lars Vogt proved a sensitive and incisive piano partner, and together they gave a high-definition account of the piece. But despite his nimbleness and effortless control, Bostridge was too bright to be truly convincing in these sombre tales of doomed love.
He was more at ease in the tormented lyricism of Schumann’s Kerner-Lieder op.35, with a subtle delivery of the composer’s fragile music. But in the encore, Brahms’s Meerfahrt, it was Vogt’s turbulent pianism – echoing around the Usher Hall’s cavernous acoustic – that stole the show.
Originally published in The Scotsman