A day after the New York Times travel supplement carried a story on Baltimore that included An die Musik among "essential" night life stops, the concert venue/retail CD shop presented a recital of Schubert lieder performed by two Peabody-trained artists. Alas, the validation (or at least suggestion) of trendiness from the Times did not lead to a stampede at the box office Monday night, but the few who turned out were amply rewarded.
Baritone Ryan de Ryke and pianist Daniel Schlosberg have demonstrated on previous joint appearances around this area that they enjoy a smooth rapport. It seemed smoother than ever on this occasion, as the two explored the theme of nature in Schubert songs, served up in groups of three or four at a time under such headings as "Man and Mountain" and "Forest Murmurs." The thoughtful choices added up to a cohesive, consistently engaging program; the musicality was on a high level throughout.
It's possible to wish that de Ryke had a little more
weight in his tone, a little more control when shifting dynamics, but it's impossible to miss the sensitivity he brings to text and melodic line alike. He was in his element here, tapping deeply into the poetry and communicating powerfully (even the lesser verses spoke tellingly). The baritone's rapt delivery of the expansive "Des Fischers Liebesgluck" was but one example; his warmly shaped phrasing of "Der Winterabend" was another.
Schlosberg's combination of refined technique and subtle shading ensured that the accompaniment enjoyed the equal footing Schubert intended. Very classy pianism.
If you missed the recital (heck, I know you did), here's a sample of the de Ryke/Scholsberg chemistry, filmed at the University of Notre Dame (where the pianist is an artist-in-residence). This is a Schubert song that wasn't on the program, but, given its references to nature, could have been -- "Nachtstuck," which describes an old man contemplating the forest on a misty night and taking up his harp to sing of the long, not unwelcome sleep of death that awaits him: