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Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano)
Isabelle van Keulen (viola)
Joseph Breinl (piano)

at Wigmore Hall, Monday, July 14, 2008

Tchaikovsky, The Sun has Set Op. 73 No. 4; It was in the early spring Op. 38 No. 2; The mild stars shone for us Op. 60 No. 12; If only I had known Op. 47 No. 1
Duparc, L'invitation au voyage; Chanson triste; Extase
Brahms, Gestillte Sehnsucht Op. 91 No. 1; Geistliches Wiegenlied Op. 91 No. 2
Fant de Kanter, 3 Songs on poems by Ingrid Jonker

Huntley Dent July 20, 2008
I just came from a vocal recital at Wigmore Hall that featured the rising Dutch mezzo, Christianne Stotijn, who is tall and has flowing pre-Raphaelite hair down her back (the last syllable of her name rhymes with ‘fine’) except to offer that Stotijn is young, vibrant, and emotionally generous with her voice. After thinking so much about Death, it’s a relief to encounter a maiden. I first heard Stotijn on a CD of early Mahler songs and felt a connection. Live, in an intimate setting, she made the same connection with several hundred Wiggies. They greeted her opening set of Tchaikovsky songs warmly and grew steadily more enthusiastic, until by the end they showered her with bravos. Stirring up listeners with Tchaikovsky and Duparc is no mean trick, especially when Stotijn’s voice was in full sail and swashed her French pronunciation overboard. At moments one heard echoes of a beloved mezzo who was a Wigmore favourite, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (the CD of one of her recitals from here can be found online – it’s at once heartbreaking and a treasure).

A short, intense woman violist, Isabelle van Keulen, came onstage to accompany Brahms’s two well-known songs for alto and viola. She burst out of the gate in startling fashion, and the blending of voice, piano, and strings didn’t settle down for a while. Once it did, however, Stotijn delivered a rendition of “Geistliches Wiegenlied” (with its Christmas carol descant of “Joseph dearest, Joseph mine”) that summoned feminine warmth and peace quite movingly. But the hit of the afternoon, and a very unexpected one, was a set of three songs by the contemporary Dutch composer Fant de Kanter. They also call for viola, and now van Keulen showed off her intensity to great effect. De Kanter’s idiom was like Bartok pared down to essentials and then sanded to remove the grittier edges. At times a single repeated note on the piano sounded like the lonely bell on a buoy at sea; at other times terse stutters from the viola were like choked emotion. The tonal idiom fell easily on the ear and allowed brief, intense poems in Afrikaans to speak of Schumannesque subjects like “Wind Song” with vivid freshness. I will remember this composer’s name from now on and hope to hear Stotijn mature into a major lieder singer.


For Christianne Stotijn's performance in Mahler's Symphony No. 2 at Tanglewood click here.

Christianne Stotijn, photo Marco Borggreve
Christianne Stotijn
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