Mark Padmore, this season’s Artist in Residence is a singer who, in connection with the Berliner Philharmoniker, is particularly familiar to audiences as the Evangelist in Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John and the St. Matthew Passion which caused a sensation in 2013 and 2014 in the staging by Peter Sellars. His slender, clear and flexible tenor makes him the ideal performer for these roles to which he brings not only intelligence but also intimacy and emotion. “Mark Padmore is a charismatic Evangelist,” as one review in the Berliner Morgenpost wrote. In concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, the singer has also appeared as a soloist in Joseph Haydn’s Harmony Mass, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Georg Friedrich Handel's Messiah, plus in lieder recitals.
Haydn’s “Creation” and Schubert’s “Winterreise”
As Artist in Residence this season, he presents further facets of his musical abilities. For example, he is one of the performers in two of the of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s wonderful oratorio projects: in the performances of Haydn’s Creation which is to be heard at the season opening concert, and in Robert Schumann’s secular oratorio Das Paradies and the Peri, in which Mark Padmore appears as the narrator. Then there are the four chamber music concerts in which he appears with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, students of the Karajan Academy and musical guests, which show Padmore’s versatility as a performer of lieder. In the first concert of his residency, he presents works by composers from his native England: Peter Warlock’s song cycle The Curlew, Richard Rodney Bennett’s Tim O’Bredlam’s song, and the cycles On Wenlock and Ten Blake songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This is followed by Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, a challenge for any singer who, within the overall melancholic mood that characterises the whole cycle, is tasked with bringing out a different facet in each of the songs. “Winterreise has that daring look at the world as it is, often cruel and lonely. At the same time it’s the story of an outsider, more like a Samuel Beckett character, somebody standing outside of life,” said Mark Padmore. In this concert, he is accompanied by the pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, who on this occasion plays a fortepiano rather than a modern grand piano, and so the two artists offer audiences the opportunity to hear the song cycle in a way it could have sounded in Schubert’s time.
From Schumann to Wigglesworth
Two completely different composers are on the programme which Mark Padmore performs with the students of the Karajan Academy: Witold Lutosławski and Benjamin Britten, a combination which reveals hidden relationships: in their song cycles, Paroles tissées and Les Illuminations, both the Polish and the English composers have set French poems, and Lutosławski’s Paroles tissées was composed for the tenor Peter Pears, Britten’s partner. In his last concert, Padmore spans the arc from Romantic to Modern to contemporary lieder with Robert Schumann’s Song Cycle op. 39, Leoš Janáček’s Diary of One Who Disappeared and Ryan Wigglesworth’s cantata Echo and Narcissus. The tenor has a longstanding artistic friendship with the young English composer, conductor and pianist. “He’s an incredibly good musician,” as Padmore said in an interview for the Münchner Merkur. Unusual programming by an unusual singer who, in addition to well-known and cherished treasures of the lieder repertoire also presents rarely heard jewels of vocal music.