<< -- 2 -- Tess Crebbin SINGING DVORÁK
TC: What do you personally get out of Dvorák?
HS: I feel a great inner sense of joy when singing his music. I am not thinking of the composer's fate when I hear the music. I enjoy the lines that I sing. You see, as a singer it might be my job to move the audience to tears but personally, I have to distance myself a little. I mean, it would show in the voice, wouldn't it, if you allow yourself to become overly emotional. I am probably among German bass singers the one who most identifies himself with Bel Canto and I find many Bel Canto elements in Dvorák. Dvorák cannot be sung like Mozart or Bach, he must be tackled head-on with an awful lot of power but this power must be mixed with the right kind of emotion also. You have to put a lot of soul into singing Dvorák or it does not work. This is something you cannot learn by perfecting your technical skills. It is God-given, you either have it or you don't. Singing Dvorák is not merely about producing sound and I think he is a very operatic composer, especially in this Stabat Mater and that is why it is best to fill the solo parts in this piece with opera singers. In Mozart you rarely have portamenti, in Bach you can sing in a more academic manner, but Dvorák challenges you to the core. There are so many Italian elements in Dvorák, these long phrasings in my own solo parts are something I bathe in. You have to release all your power but you also have to become active, you have to storm ahead then you have to hold yourself back again. What you cannot do is to line one tone to the other. You have to watch out for the small accelerandi.
TC: You have been enormously successful with your performances of Dvorak's Stabat Mater. What are your fondest memories?
HS: I enjoyed all of them, every individual performance. You have to keep in mind that there are twenty years between my first and my most recent performance. One performance that comes to mind is Madrid in 1991. The people there really liked the piece, so much that I have performed it in Madrid alone some nine times!
Copyright © 1 May 2004
Tess Crebbin, Germany