I just finished watching a really infectiously enjoyable performance of Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten. This is that broadcast from Salzburg that, after a great deal of monkeying around and a certain amount of technical assistance I managed to coax from 3Sat’s website.
The whole thing had a feel of relaxed spaciousness – plenty of room for the big moments (and with the Vienna Philharmonic and the chorus, the big moments were big) and also space for a lot of expressive detail from the soloists, Florian Boesch (Simon) Michael Schade (Lukas) and Dorothea Röschmann (Hanne) who all three seemed to be having a hell of a good time. Apparently Röschmann was pinch-hitting for an absent Genia Kühmeier; I can’t say I deeply regretted the substitution.
All three of these soloists are singers I enjoy hearing, and I was certainly not disappointed by this performance. My favorite parts included Boesch (accompanied by a very sprightly bassoon) during “schon eilet froh der Ackermann” and pretty much any point at which Schade and Röschmann were singing together. To take only one example, Schade was having great fun with the little recitative before “ihr Schönen aus der Stadt” during the “Autumn” section and Röschmann had that “I am about to engage in some entertaining acting now” look – which was promptly followed by some engaging vocal acting and very pretty singing from both during the duet that followed.
The parts that gripped me the most were Röschmann’s effortlessly beautiful “Wilkommen jetzt, o dunkler Hain . . . Welche Labung für die Sinne” (with some great moments of quiet string sections alternating with the soprano part, and an elegant solo oboe) during the “Summer” section and, during “Winter”, the recitative going into Hanne’s “Licht und Leben” – the way she shaped that “in banger Stille die Natur” line in the recitative and the sheer sound of both that and the last “Dauer” in the aria were arrestingly beautiful.
But these are just examples, and Röschmann-focused examples at that. There didn’t seem to me to be a weak moment in the whole thing. (Florian Boesch certainly led me to conclude that I may have underappreciated baritones in general and Boesch in particular.) Here’s hoping that this turns up on a DVD one of these days.