The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise
Barbican Theatre May 12 – 14
London EC2Y 8DS
Runs: 1hr 30 mins without interval
TICKETS: 0845 120 7550
In person: Mon– Sat, 9.00am-8pm; Sun & Bank Hols 11.00am-8pm
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen May 12, 2016:
Brilliantly directed, but questions hover in the air
How well do staged classical music pieces work? The jury is still out despite the considerable brilliance that director Netia Jones brings to her staged interpretation of Hans Zender’s orchestrated version of Schubert’s `Winterreise’.
Schubert’s song cycle, written when he was just 30/31, is one of the great pillars of western culture, twenty four songs set by Schubert to the poems of Wilhelm Müller in 1828, for singer and piano.
More than twenty years ago, Hans Zender orchestrated the song cycle, passing it through a sieve of 20th century musical influences. The Britten Sinfonia under Baldur Brönnimann at times takes on the mantle of Weimar cabaret and Kurt Weill, at other times Mahler and on into the atonal realms of Berg and late 20th century – discordant, jagged sometimes even a little `thin’.
But what occasionally it lacks in weight is more than made up for in Netia Jones’ staging of Hans Zender’s `Winterreise’. Film and video are all employed with at its centre the thin, hallucinatory figure of tenor Ian Bostridge, dapper in pin stripe and bow tie, later ravaged against a landscape of piercing snow-laden, pine forest bleakness.
A tale of lost love and our mortal journey towards extinction, Muller’s words are drenched in German Romanticism and encounters with death, its morbid self-obsession reflected by Jones in a series of haunting film and video images of a figure silhouetted in the landscape or a younger Bostridge frozen, prostrate, on icy ground.
Jones’s Expressionistic staging, a commentary on the passing of Time and the dirge of a mechanistic world, enveloped in light and shade until the ultimate extinction, is certainly striking if at times almost too busy.
But Bostridge is peerless, totally emotionally committed despite having performed this work now for nearly thirty years, his voice as fresh and clear as ever, accentuated in moments of high tension by exquisite lighting.
Carrying echoes of Peter Stein’s famous Expressionistic staging of Eugene O’Neill’s The Naked Ape, Jones places Schubert’s wanderer in an overpowering, unforgiving environment. Bostridge brings it back to the specific and personal in a memorable if ever so slightly over-textured experience. But oh that voice!
The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise
Tenor: Ian Bostridge
Conductor: Baldur Brönnimann
Violin: Thomas Gould, Ian Belton
Viola: Clare Finnimore, Ann Bielby
Cello: Ben Chappell
Double Bass: Roger Linley
Guitar: Gary Ryan
Accordian: Rafal Luc
Flute/Piccolo: Sarah O’Flynn, David Cuthbert
Alton Flute: Sarah O’Flynn
Oboe: Nicholas Daniel, Emma Feilding
Oboe d’amore: Nicholas Daniel
Cor anglais: Emma Feilding
Clarinet: Joy Farrall, Hannay Lawrence
Bass Clarinet: Hannah Lawrence
Soprano Saxophone: Hannah Lawrence
Bassoon: Sarah Burnett, Gareth Twigg
Contrabassoon: Gareth Twigg
Horn: Jesse Durkan
Trumpet: Paul Archibald
Trombone: Byron Fulcher
Timpani: Scott Bywater
Percussion: Jeremy Cornes, Owen Gunnell, Tim Gunnell
Harp: Sally Pryce
Orchestra Manager: Annabel Leakey
Director, designer and video artist: Netia Jones
Video Technical Associate: Ian Winters
Costume Supervisor: Jemime Penny
Hair & Make-Up Designer: Susanna Peretz
Costume Maker: Kirstie Robinson
Studio Wardrobe Supervisor: Hannah Trickett
Sound Designer: David Sheppard
Lighting Consultant: Richard Beaton
Dori Deng, Conrad Kostowsky, William Saville, Moira Lam, Johnny Ho, Janey Elliot
Photographer: Cordula Tremi
Translation: Simon Scardifield
ThirdEye Productions/Channel 4
Original Costume Design: Gideon Davey
By Hans Zender
By arrangement with Kreitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden (Germany)
Co-produced by Britten Sinfonia, Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley, and National Taichung Theater, Taiwan
Britten Sinfonia’s appearance in The Dark Mirror is supported by Adrian Frost and Hamish & Sophie Forsyth
Produced by the Barbican
Hans Zender’s `Winterreise’:The Dark Mirror performed at the Barbican Theatre, May 12-14, 2016