Long-term collaborators noted for their studied, intelligent, and sensitive approach to German Lieder, Roderick Williams and Julius Drake bring penetrating insights into Johannes Brahms’s song cycle, Die schöne Magelone, Op. 33, 15 romances from Ludwig Tieck’s novella, The Wonderous Romance of Magelone the Fair and Peter, Count of Provence. An archaic tale that follows a noble count Peter and his beloved Neapolitan princess Magelone, Brahms’s cycle depicts the emotions of 15 different characters within the arc of the story. Expressions of love and romance pervade the cycle, which unites the medieval folkloric of Tieck’s writing with Brahms’s rich harmonic idiom, creating a rapt, imaginary musical picture of the story. For their Phillips performance, the songs will be connected by a narration of the plot read by Alastair Boag.
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-97)
Die Schöne Magelone, Op. 33
Roderick Williams performs a wide repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music, in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital. He won the Singer of the Year Award in the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and was awarded the OBE for services to music in June 2017.
He works regularly with all of the major UK opera houses with roles including Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, the title role in Billy Budd, the title role in Il ritorno di Ulisse, and has also sung world premieres of operas by, among others, David Sawer, Sally Beamish, Michael van der Aa, and Robert Saxton.
Williams has sung with all the BBC orchestras, and many other ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé, Britten Sinfonia, Bournemouth Symphony, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Russian National Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Academy of Ancient Music, The Sixteen, Le Concert Spirituel, Rias Kammerchor, and Bach Collegium Japan. His many festival appearances include the BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Bath, and Melbourne.
In 2015 he sang Christus in Peter Sellars’ staging of the St John Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle—a performance now available on DVD. He will sing this role again with both the Berlin Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in 2019.
Recent and future engagements include Oronte in Charpentier’s Médée, Toby Kramer in Van der Aa’s Sunken Garden, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, and the baritone role in a staging of Britten’s War Requiem for English National Opera, the title role in Eugene Onegin for Garsington Opera, Van der Aa’s After Life at Melbourne State Theatre, Van der Aa’s Sunken Garden at Opera de Lyon, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and with Dallas Opera, the title role in Billy Budd for Opera North and at the Aldeburgh Festival, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Ulisse in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, a concert performance of Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Last Night of the 2014 BBC Proms, as well as concert performances with many of the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles. He is also an accomplished recital artist who can be heard at venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, LSO St Luke’s, the Perth Concert Hall, Oxford Lieder Festival, London Song Festival, the Musikverein, Vienna, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, and on Radio 3, where he has participated in Iain Burnside’s Voices program.
His numerous recordings include Vaughan Williams, Berkeley, and Britten operas for Chandos and an extensive repertoire of English song with pianist Iain Burnside for Naxos. He is in the process of recording the three Schubert cycles for Chandos.
Roderick Williams is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room, and live on national radio. He was Artistic Director of Leeds Lieder + in April 2016.
The pianist Julius Drake lives in London and enjoys an international reputation as one of the finest instrumentalists in his field, collaborating with many of the world’s leading artists, both in recital and on disc. He appears regularly at all the major music centers and festivals: the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh International, Munich, Schubertiade, and Salzburg Music Festivals; Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre, New York; The Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall, and BBC Proms, London.
Drake’s many recordings include a widely acclaimed series with Gerald Finley for Hyperion, from which the Barber Songs, Schumann Heine Lieder, and Britten Songs and Proverbs won the 2007, 2009, and 2011 Gramophone Awards; award winning recordings with Ian Bostridge for EMI; several recitals for the Wigmore Live label, with among others Alice Coote, Joyce Didonato, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Christopher Maltman, and Matthew Polenzani; recordings of Kodály and Schoeck sonatas with the cellists Natalie Clein and Christian Poltera for the Hyperion and Bis labels; of Tchaikovsky and Mahler with Christianne Stotijn for Onyx; English song with Bejun Mehta for Harmonia Mundi; and Schubert’s Poetisches Tagebuch with Christoph Prégardien, which won the Jahrpreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2016.
Drake is now embarked on a major project to record the complete songs of Franz Liszt for Hyperion—the second disc in the series, with Angelika Kirchschlager, won the BBC Music Magazine Award 2012—and a series of four Schubert recitals recorded live at Wigmore Hall with Ian Bostridge.
Concerts in the coming seasons include recitals in his series, “Julius Drake and Friends” at the historic Middle Temple Hall in London; concerts in Cologne, Brussels, and Schwarzenberg with Ian Bostridge; in Amsterdam, Madrid, London, and Philadelphia with Sarah Connolly; in Vienna, Zurich, and Leeds with Angelika Kirchschlager; in Vienna, Hamburg, and London with Gerald Finley; in Bilbao, London, and Vilabertran with Christoph Pregardien; and in New York with Matthew Polenzani. Further engagements include a Beethoven song series for the 92nd Street Y in New York, a Mahler series for the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and a Mendelssohn/Liszt series for the Wigmore Hall, London.
Alastair Boag is a performer, director, and teacher. A native of the UK, where he directed 10 productions for Opera East Productions, co-devised and compèred the Classical Counter Cabaret (with countertenors Michael Chance and Derek Lee Ragin), and, more recently, managed The Stahl Theatre, Oundle, Boag now lives in New York City where he is Chair of the Arts Department at The Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn. As an actor, Boag has appeared in a number of independent films, most notably those of director Tony Britten. He is in demand as a Shakespeare coach, and for his accent at readings across New York.