For some of us, there are few musical pleasures more enriching than lieder recitals. But we don't get that many opportunities to indulge. Since many people would rather face root canals than a bunch of deadly serious songs in German, few presenters are willing to take a chance on programming such events. So Sunday afternoon's performance of Schubert's Winterreise at the graceful mansion on the grounds of Cylburn Arboreteum came as a most welcome entry on the local arts calendar, especially since it featured the ever-engaging baritone Ryan de Ryke and the admirable pianist Eva Mengelkoch. The two seemed to be totally involved in this song cycle's profound journey of body and soul, its glimpse into what it means to be alienated from love and purpose.
De Ryke used his well-controlled, evenly produced voice to telling effect throughout, offering a remarkable range of dynamic coloring that enabled the subtlest deatils of both Wilhelm Muller poetry and Schubert's perfectly matched melodies to be keenly felt. He got so deeply, sometimes chillingly into the character of the melancholy wanderer that the songs took on the vividness of a great play.
The sizable crowd that turned out also was rewarded with the finely judged, supportive playing by Mengelkoch, who clearly understands how much meaning is packed into the piano part. The chamber music series at Cylburn, founded and directed by Mengelkoch, has its next presentation in April.
BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTO