Mezzo-soprano: Michelle Breedt
Piano: Nina Schumann
Cat. #: TP1039251
Label: TwoPianists Records
Recorded at: Endler Hall, Stellenbosch University, South Africa - January 4 - 8, 2010
Following the success of her previous disc with TwoPianists entitled Shakespeare Inspired, Michelle Breedt presents a beautiful collection of songs by Schubert in a compilation called Jahreszeiten (Seasons). The collection opens with the famous An die Natur, which becomes the central theme of The Seasons, for Schubert represents the Seasons through his observations of nature. And indeed nature is superbly represented through some of the composer’s most hidden gems, including the mammoth Viola. Michelle Breedt is no stranger to the international stages having appeared in numerous productions at the Salzburg Festspiele, Bayreuth and the ENO. Her recent appearances in The Passenger garnered extraordinary reviews. She has found the perfect partner in Nina Schumann, founding member of TwoPianists, and an accompanist of note. Together they will appear in Wigmore Hall, Tonhalle and the Schubertiade (Spain) in the 2013/2014 season. Jahreszeiten is a rich document – attractive to both the eye and the ear.
The weather is often a topic broached by strangers meeting to smooth over an awkward silence and is used knowingly or unknowingly to establish common ground. The seasons, influencing the weather, govern our day-to day existence, the annual cycle determines our very survival by enabling the growing of our foodstuffs. The seasons influence our moods and are a metaphor for our life cycle.
Nature, and the various seasons, inspired Franz Schubert to compose his arguably greatest song cycle (Die Winterreise) and some of his most beautiful songs . Some purely revel in the description of fauna and flora whilst others symbolically take us on a journey mirroring human emotions.
Spring is the season which Schubert sets the most frequently. My choice to sing only one song for the season Spring on this disc, the lengthy Viola, known as one of Schubert‘s finest ballads, is a very personal one.
How often have I, like Viola, with the first warming rays of the sun after a long winter, filled with the promise of heat, light and new energy, dashed to pack away winter clothes just to be dreadfully disappointed when the cold weather comes snapping back. I always seem to fall into the same trap every year! I understand and feel for the violet which pays the ultimate price. Spring can be seen as the bittersweet season, the plants blooming and then dying to give birth to the life of the fruit.
Michelle Breedt (March 2012)