TESS CREBBIN and SISSY VON KOTZEBUE
review a Ben Heppner recital in Munich
Ben Heppner was in Munich, all of May, for Wagner's Lohengrin. The Canadian is said to be one of the foremost dramatic tenors performing in the world today. What many people do not realize is that Heppner, who considers himself a lyric tenor at heart, has a second big love aside from opera: Lieder, especially those of Paolo Tosti. Whenever his celebrated opera performances leave him time, Heppner tries to fit in a recital. On 13 May 2004, Munich audiences at the Herkulessaal had the rare privilege to hear Heppner singing Tosti, which is an experience like taking a bath in liquid sky.
The recital was cleverly structured, being divided into four separate parts, with Heppner performing the Lieder of four composers in four different languages. In the first segment were Six Lieder by Edvard Grieg (Op 48). He opened with Gruss, text by Heine. The second Lied, Dereinst, Gedanke mein showed Heppner's magnificent colors as he sang rounded and dark one moment and softly with a warm touch the next. Hearing him, one was truly reminded of a clear mountain lake somewhere in Grieg's homeland. Exceptional was also Heppner's impeccable German pronunciation as he moved on through Grieg's works, receiving splendid applause mid-way after singing Lauf der Welt when acting out the song's funny moments with his facial mimic. Very sensitive was his Verschwiegene Nachtigall and Ein Traum was truly a dream of a performance, with a good fortissimo that was only topped by the immense applause that accompanied the end of the first quarter.
Copyright © 18 May 2004
Tess Crebbin and Sissy von Kotzebue, Germany