Schubert – Winterreise

Wednesday 31 March, 7pm

Be transported from Winter’s gloom to Springtime bloom, with Schubert’s iconic song cycle, performed by Jeremy Leaman (bass-baritone) and Beate Toyka (piano) in this online concert, streamed live from the magnificent setting of Trent College Chapel in Nottingham.

The recital is partnered with a set of artworks curated by artist Thekla Kampelmann (see below) in response to the themes of the poems. Please feel free to view these at any time before, during, or after the concert.

There is no charge for this livestreamed concert, but please donate generously to the Child Poverty Action Group charity via the button below.

About the work

Winterreise is arguably Schubert’s greatest and best-known song-cycle, composed towards the end of his short but extraordinarily productive life. Like Die schöne Müllerin, some of which Beate and I have performed last year, WR tells a story, here through one narrator, the hapless young journeyman who seeks love in vain and, when thwarted, embarks on a metaphorical journey through his emotions. This journey is also cyclical in the sense that it fluctuates between rejection and despair on the one hand and rekindled hope and courage on the other – often but not always reflected in the key settings of the individual songs. 8 out the 24 songs are in major keys, but some end in the minor and others drift into minor sections or defy the melancholy mood of the text with an ironic insistence on a major setting.

There are critical and recurrent features in the poetry of inexorable motion, of hope, of joy and pain, of longing, of sun, rain, snow, ice, storm, cloud, gentle breezes, revelation and concealment, which Schubert handles with masterful examples of word-painting and coloration. While rooted stylistically in the language of late classicism and early German romanticism, there are melodic and harmonic elements in both vocal and piano parts which anticipate the bolder and edgier features of late romanticism and even modernism.

Above all, the poetic and musical language suggests so much more than the simple emotional incontinence found in the cultural genre of “Empfindsamkeit” – hypersensitivity, sentimentality – and invokes very strongly the mood of a radical younger generation thoroughly fed up with the restoration of autocracy and stultifying conservatism after 1815, but particularly after 1819 with the Carlsbad Decrees. The invocation of hope, disappointment, joy and sorrow, of the banality of “the village” is arguably deeply political. Concealed, coded, but oppressively present.

If we want you to take away one idea from this recital, it is that the poetry and music belong to a deeply significant historical context, the reverberations of which have been felt through two centuries right up until today.

Notes by Jeremy Leaman

About the performers

Jeremy Leaman is an emeritus fellow in European political economy at Loughborough University, a Germanist and an active singer. He studied singing with Andrea Jackson, Richard Roddis, Rod Dawkins and Stephen Varcoe and pursues a busy musical life as a soloist and ensemble singer. He is a long-standing member of the Sinfonia Chorale in Nottingham and the Richard Roddis Singers, and has, in the past sung with Choros Amici, with the Choir of St John’s Smith Square and with the Cecilian Singers. He is a founding member of the 8-voice a cappella group, MOSAIC. Apart from song recitals, he has appeared as a soloist with many choirs in the North and East Midlands.

German-born Beate Toyka trained in Cologne Conservatoire and at the Royal Academy of Music with Hamish Milne. Her training and musical identity are rooted in the German classical-romantic tradition, of which Schubert is a leading exponent. Before coming to Derbyshire she lived in Cambridge, UK and Botswana, Southern Africa. Here she played concerts in Botswana and most surrounding countries: Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe, where she was many times soloist with the Bulawayo and Harare Philharmonic Orchestras.

Based in Derbyshire, Beate has been in demand as a performer, accompanist, teacher and adjudicator. She is accompanist for the Nottingham University Music Department and has been on the staff at Chetham’s International Summer School for pianists. She has close links with the Derby Concert and Chamber Orchestras and the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra. With these she has performed the piano concertos of Beethoven (all five), Brahms (Nº.1), Ravel, Grieg and Shostakovitch.

As an alternative to conventional solo or concerto playing she formed the ‘Derby Piano Quartet’, an ensemble with four pianists on two pianos.

About the artist

Thekla Kampelmann was born in the industrial area along the Ruhr in Germany and studied Art, English and Education.  After gaining her MA and teaching qualification she started teaching in the UK whilst continuing with her doctoral studies.  As a teacher of German and Art she also participated regularly in art exhibitions in Germany and carried out commissioned work (Sparkasse Werl, Ursulinengymnasium Werl, Sparkasse Tuebingen, Industrial Company in Weissenburg).  After gaining her PhD in 2000 she moved to Stockport to teach German and Art at Stockport Grammar School.  In recent years she had exhibitions in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the UK.   Traveling widely and spending some months teaching with a charity in India, townscapes and travel impressions characterise her earlier work as well as book illustrations, while later cyclical work explores religious topics and issues of modern society.  This also led to painting a triptych and devotional image for the ancient monastery of Mor Augin in the Tur Abdin, close to the Turkish / Syrian border and the ancient city of Nisibis. Together with a Dutch artist she was invited to illustrate an Aramaic translation of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet with exhibitions in the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.