Debut of Matthew Polenzani in the Lied Cycle

Matthew Polenzani

This season is the one of premieres in the Lied who organize the CNDM and the Teatro de la Zarzuela. On this occasion the debutant has been the American tenor Matthew Polenzani, who has been accompanied on the piano by Julius Drake, considered one of the best instrumentalists in his field in the world. East end that he again demonstrated on this occasion accompanying Polenzani. An always safe value, Drake.

Polenzani did not arrive at the Teatro de la Zarzuela with an easy repertoire, neither for him nor for the public, especially in its second part. He began by performing five of the best known songs from Schubert, In the spring, Belief in spring, The lonely, Serenade y in the sunset. Perhaps this composer is not the most suitable for Polenzani's vocal characteristics, but his refined technique facilitated his accommodation at all times. Much better was in the selection of song cycle from Schumann (in this case, all nine Songs del Op. 24 from 1840), where he demonstrated his greatest interpretive abilities, its stylistic delicacy, an excellent phrasing and an extraordinary fiato which he recorded on several occasions. Even so, his voice sounds much more bel canto than liederistic to us.

In the third set of songs he surprised everyone with works by Francis Poulenc, specifically the "mélodies" of "Engagement for laughs” ("Laughter betrothal"). In this point, Polenzani, that went from less to more, it was where he was most inspired. Especially in the most theatrical and dramatic part, that in this French repertoire, it is an important question.

It ended with three works by the little-known American composer Charles Ives. Note the beautiful and delicate Field loneliness, for whose interpretation I had reserved Polenzani its greatest refinement and sensitivity. Or the funniest The World’s Highway.

After two tips and thanks to the Theater for being able to be with the public that night, concluded this fourth recital of lied that, as usual, and much more this year, It is one of the great musical events in Madrid.

Photograph: Rafa Martín