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Renowned Tenor Christoph Pregardien

Performs Schubert's Winterreise
In a Special Chamber Music Version
With the Pentaedre Ensemble and
Accordionist Joseph Petric from Canada
At the Israeli Opera in March

The coming concert in the Israeli Opera's Music of All Sorts series features a unique version of Schubert's profound song cycle Winterreise (Winter Journey). Tenor Christoph Pregardien will, one of the leading Schubert singing experts in the world today, will perform the cycle in a special chamber music version accompanied by the Canadian ensemble Pentaedre (woodwind quintet) and accordionist Joseph Petric. This special arrangement was created by Normand Forget, the music director and oboist of the ensemble.

The concerts will take place on Saturday morning March 19 (11:00) at Opera House of the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and on March 21 (20:30) at the YMCA Auditorium in Jerusalem.

"The often pungent sound and expressive combined timbral effects of these instruments enhances the texts and moods while very nicely complementing the voice… After the final bar we're moved by the plaintive, lingering instrumental utterance, as well as by the uncertainty of the singer's fate; despair hangs in the air." (Arkivmusic.com)

Winterreise, 24 songs written b German poet Wilhelm Muller (1794-1827) is the story of a man who, after a love affair ends, finds himself alone. He has no future, and his past charged with promises and memories breaks his heart. He embarks on a lengthy winter journey through his own memories, trying to come to terms with the now lost joys of his past and a future that has nothing to console him aside of the possible thought of death. In this version the songs are performed in Muller's order and not in the one lieder lovers are used to in which Schubert rearranged them. 

German tenor Christoph Prégardien is one of the most distinguished lyric tenors of our time.He is highly renowned for his intelligent and sensitive interpretations in the ‘Lied’ genre, closely cooperating with his preferred pianists Michael Gees and Andreas Staier for many years. Christoph Prégardien is regularly performing in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin, Cologne, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Zurich, Vienna, Barcelona and Geneva as well as in Italy, Japan and North-America. In addition, he is frequently performing with major orchestras such as Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Philharmonia Orchestra London, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and with the Symphony Orchestras of Montréal, Boston, St. Louis and San Francisco. In the opera world, Christoph Prégardien has sung the roles of Tamino in Die Zauberflote (Mozart), Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini), Fenton in Falstaff (Verdi), Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni (Mozart) and other roles. A significant part of his repertoire has been recorded by major labels such as BMG, EMI, DG, Philips, Sony, Erato and Teldec. By now, his discography includes more than 130 productions, which were awarded numerous international prizes. His highly acclaimed recordings of the German Romantic Lied won the Orphée d’Or of the Académie du Disque Lyrique, - Prix Georg Solti, the German Record Critics’ Prize, the Edison Award, the Cannes Classical Award and the Diapason d’Or, to name but a few. An important aspect in Christoph Prégardien’s musical activity is the intense and multi-faceted approach to his educational work. From 2000 to 2004, he taught at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Zurich. Since 2004, he has been a Professor at the Academy of Music Cologne. In an innovative combination of DVD and book published in the series of “Schott Master Class”, he discusses issues of singing techniques and interpretation, by using multi-media techniques.

Since 1985, PENTAÈDRE is dedicated to the discovery of a varied chamber music repertoire, original and often less known. Passionate chamber musicians, its members explore the classical repertoire for wind quintet as well as orchestral works or transcriptions. Over the past ten years the ensemble has established collaborations with renowned artists like Christoph Prégardien and Rufus Müller (tenors), Russell Braun and Phillip Addis (baritones), Karina Gauvin (soprano), Naida Cole, David Jalbert and Iwan Llewelyn-Jones (piano), also with chamber music ensembles such as the Penderecki String Quartet and the Arthur-LeBlanc Quartet. The group has been heard in most major chamber music festivals in Eastern Canada and has toured in Canada, Europe and the United States. Last March, the ensemble’s last recording won the exceptional mention « Stern des Monats » in the German magazine Fono Forum. This recognition for its chamber version of Schubert’s Winterreise adds up to excellent performance reviews for its original shows L’amour est un opéra muet and A Chair in love. In May 2011, to celebrate its 25th season, Pentaèdre will present an exceptional Mahler 100 Years Event, with tenor Christoph Prégardien and contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux.
Accordionist Joseph Petric has inspired audiences worldwide with his performances. A JUNO nominee and laureate of the CBC National Radio and BBC3 Radio 3 auditions and Prix Opus Best Recording laureate, he has appeared at London's Southbank, Washington's Phillips Collection and Manhattan's Baruch series where he was hailed for his "…luminous command, authenticity..and nuanced collaboration…". In 2000 he was invited by the Tanglewood Festival to participate in Berio's 75th birthday celebrations. In a performance of the complete Berio Sequenzas, given by leading international soloists and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Seiji Ozawa Hall, the Boston Globe noted his performance to be one of "extraordinary eloquence… the most moving of all the Sequenzas". 

A dedicated recitalist, chamber artist and concerto soloist he has enjoyed the support of benefactors such as the Koussevitsky Foundation, Swedish Reikskonzerter, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has also toured for England's John Lewis Partnership and Columbia Artists. As a concerto soloist, he has appeared with the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sweden's Camerata Nordica, Concertante di Chicago, the Boston Modern Orchestra, the Orchestra Symphonique de Quebec, the Vancouver CBC Chamber Orchestra, Montreal's Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and Symphony Nova Scotia. In 2010 he launched a new symphonic concept with his show Accordion on Fire, performing three concertos with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra in its Odyssey Series.

The music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) has a special place in musical history. As a direct heir to the masters of classicism, he worked with the formal structures established by Haydn and Mozart, but through the expressiveness of his melodies, he also explored new universes of sound which would open the doors to the romanticism of the following generations. Right at the same time Beethoven was transforming such forms as the symphony and the string quartet to the point of explosion, Schubert, on a more intimate scale and using orchestral resources at his disposal only now and then, was multiplying the possible color combinations, much like a painter who reworks the same painting using different shades and lighting.

In fact, we can speak of one single painting with regard to Schubert’s music without any fear of redundancy. Much in the same way as the technique of chiaro-oscuro, the works of Schubert, even in their most joyous moments, are suffused with a color, a luminousness that is very special. Schubert died young and he knew from early adulthood that he was stricken with an incurable illness. We cannot resist associating these abrupt changes from major to minor and these modulations in tone, until then rarely used, with his awareness of his fateful destiny.

These mood swings between happiness and despair, this musical chiaro-oscuro, is probably nowhere else as present as in the Winterreise (The Winter Journey) Cycle. This cycle of twenty-four songs, or Lieder, a journey both in the texts making it up and in the emotions present in its score, remains unique in Schubert’s work. Aside from Die Winterreise, Die schöne Müllerin (The Maid of the Mill) and Schwanengesang (Swansong) were also gathered into cycles by their author. But it is in Die Winterreise, where twenty-four songs melt into one, that the notion of a cycle attains its full meaning, taking the listener to the core of the most profound emotions during a journey that lasts about an hour.

Wilhelm Müller’s (1794-1827) texts are cast in the image of Schubert’s music. Themes dear to romanticism: love, sadness, madness and death, are found in these songs of a traveler, fleeing the home of his dearly beloved: “Love loves wandering.” This journey takes us through darkness with only the moon for a companion, a journey begun under the sign of unhappy, tormented love and ending in madness and death.

Written barely a year before Schubert’s death and during the same year as the poet Müller’s death, the Winterreise cycle is a unique work - powerful and capable of arousing in us joy as well as fright In the arrangement you will hear tonight, the piano part has been orchestrated. This new version of the work, coloring the accompaniment with hues of the wood quintet and the accordion, all the while remaining faithful to the original text, unhitches it from its era and makes it nearly a work of today. The old hurdy-gurdy player with his frozen fingers appears even more human and touching to us and the rushing of the stream, the whispering of the wind and the rustling of the linden ring even truer. 

One of the most famous interpreters of Die Winterreise, the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, had these words to say on the subject: “Should one offer such an intimate diary of a human soul to an audience whose interests are so varied? (...) The singer must have no fears about the chilling effect which these songs can have, given the correct interpretation. (...) If these songs only please us, or stir us or frighten us, then we are a long, long way from fully understanding Schubert's personal statement. Winterreise demands much more than the purely lyrical approach - it runs the gamut of emotions, up to and including drama."

Despite the tone, at times hard, of Fischer-Dieskau’s words, we may retain this from them: Do not doubt your ability to listen for yourself. This work’s poetry is immense and very gripping, so just join us for this voyage and let us tell you the story of this traveler who might well lie deep within each of us. Bon Voyage

“I came a stranger and leave a stranger. (…) I cannot decide when I travel,
I just must find my way in this darkness.”


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