A virtual ‘Der Lindenbaum’: Streetwise Opera bring the 2020 Ryedale Festival Online to a restful close

Streetwise Opera is both an award-winning performing arts charity for
people affected by homelessness, running a programme of regular creative
workshops in homeless centres and arts venues in five regions across
England, and a critically acclaimed opera company. Those who participate in the company’s workshops create and perform in new productions work
alongside exceptional professional artists.

Performing Iain Farrington’s new arrangement of Schubert’s song, 23
Streetwise Opera singers, workshop leaders and support workers sang
alongside Roderick Williams and eight professional singers from Genesis
Sixteen – a young artists’ scheme established by The Sixteen in 2011 which
aims to nurture the next generation of talented choral singers and create a
bridge from conservatories and universities into the singing profession –
accompanied by the Brodsky Quartet and pianist Christopher Glynn, the
Festival’s Artistic Director.


Farrington’s arrangement complements William Müller’s poetic imagery, the richness of the strings’ interjections heightening the colours and textures of the rustling leaves, the chill of the cruel wind’s icy blasts, and the depth of the night’s darkness – images further visually elaborated in
director Freya Wynn-Jones short film. The breeze stirs up crisp autumnal
leaves to reveal a violin nestled amid the undergrowth. Williams slowly
treads a lone path through waist high grasses, like one of Thomas Hardy’s
‘solitary pedestrians’, towards the distant beckoning tree. Silver light
flickers through the woodland canopy. A sole leaf flutters onto still

The English translation by Jeremy Sams is direct and is complemented by
verbal fragments – “You belong”, “Come back to me and rest here” – written
on leaves, held aloft. The tempo is expansive, enhancing the dream-like
mood and conveying the sense of comfort that Schubert’s wanderer feels as
he reclines under the linden tree’s protective branches. But, with the
brutal blast which gusts into the traveller’s face and jolts his hat
roughly from his head, Williams solo voice pushes forward, the tension only
dissolving with the final stanza’s retrospective recollections of the
tree’s restful safe haven.

Following this unusual and moving performance of ‘Der Lindenbaum’, the
Carducci Quartet completed the recital, performing Phillip Glass’s String
Quartet No.3 (Mishima) and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F minor
Op.95 No.11 (Serioso). Their performance was filmed at Castle
Howard – a magnificent medley of Baroque flamboyance and Palladian
graciousness surrounded by 1000-acres of parkland and woodland, the
building of which was begun by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle in 1699 and reached
completion over 100 years later. Damaged by fire in 1940, Castle Howard
subsequently became best-known to many as ‘Brideshead’ in the 1981
television serial and 2008 film adaptations of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

The rich acoustic of the Long Gallery enriched Glass’s meditative
reflections on the life of Yukio Mishima, music which was originally
composed for Paul Schrader’s 1985 film, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Compact in form, its music very condensed, this F Minor Quartet is Beethoven’s shortest string quartet, but it conveys a scope and power that belie its surface dimensions. Beethoven acknowledged the radical nature of this ‘Quartetto serioso’, which he composed in 1810, when he told the composer-conductor Sir George Smart that the Quartet was “written for a small circle of connoisseurs and is never to be performed in public”. This remark, and the apparent interiority of the Quartet, seem to raise interesting questions about the relationship between composer, the performer and the listener – questions which, as performers and audiences alike adapt to new ways of communicating and sharing musical experiences made the Carducci’s performance a fitting and reflective
conclusion to the 2020 Ryedale Festival Online.

Claire Seymour

This concert

is available to view until Sunday 16th August 2020, along with the
other events in the 2020 Ryedale Festival Online.

image= http://www.operatoday.com/Roderick-Williams-3-Groves-Artists.jpg
product_title=2020 Ryedale Festival Online
product_id=Above: Roderick Williams

Photo courtesy of Groves Artists