Shortly I’ll resume my posts about culture (aka how classical music hasn’t kept up with the rest of it). And I’ll respond to some of the comments.
He’s about as artistic (by which I mean responsive to the musical, poetic, dramatic, and pictorial truth of the song) as anyone could be, but he’s also natural, direct, personal, unfussy.
I love this. And I think it’s something classical music needs. Something it used to have, but which these days is harder to find. These days, so many classical music performances have a classical music aura, an implicit subtext — underlying, suffusing, permeating everything else that’s going on — that says “this is classical music.” With overtones of: “This is special. This is artistic. This is refined.”
I found the Prey performance on an engaging YouTube page created for the composition context, in which people submit music that has an air of conversation. The Schumann song qualifies, because in it you hear the voices of more than one character (and Prey renders them all — especially the scary voice of the lorelei — with precision, and a kind of hair-raising but very simple delight).
On this page is also a poised, and very deft, performance of a familiar duet from Bach’s “Wachet auf” cantata, one of those love duets between God and the soul that Bach could write with such complex simplicity. The YouTube page doesn’t clearly say who’s involved (just as the Prey page doesn’t say who the pianist is), but I think it’s a performance led by Ton Koopman, which certainly guarantees very high quality.
But the singing and the playing, pert as they are, also have that classical music aura –
Compare it with the Prey performance, and see what I mean: