Pavol Breslik also did not turn his back on Liszt.
Pavol Breslik also did not turn his back on Liszt. At his celebrated Festival lieder recital on Thursday in the packed Prinzregententheater, he followed in Diana Damrau’s tracks as it were, dedicating the evening to Liszt’s Petrarch lieder as she had the night before. An interesting comparison: where Damrau and Deutsch consigned themselves to the flow of the music, Breslik and his piano accompanist Amir Katz sought out the obstacles.
The two proceeded with more individuality, more unconventionality, more daring, so that the trendsetting aspects in Liszt’s music (most notably on the piano) came more strongly to the fore. Breslik performed with great vocal gesture, not shying away from forte and passion, skilfully changing registers in the process.
The singer opened the evening with Dvorak’s “Zigeunerlieder” (“Gypsy Songs”), more familiar as portrayed by palatable mezzo-sopranos. With his bright, masculine tenor, Breslik relied less on lush vocal opulence than on clear lines, scoring as a Slovakian further points with a smooth delivery in the original language. An introverted, exceedingly low-key “Rings ist der Wald so stumm und still” was followed by an „Als die alte Mutter“ bearing next to noble emphasis. One seldom hears such differentiation between these songs. Here, Amir Katz was less an accompanist than a keenly rhythmic co-creator. That Pavol Breslik is not only at home in the Czech Republic and Italy, but is also in command of virtually accent-free German, proved to be of great avantange to the wonderful poems of Heinrich Heine. In the musical form of Robert Schumann, the 16 songs of “Dichterliebe” topped off the evening.
Breslik rendered the love songs at once without adornment and with great artistry: he piloted his voice as an instrument and almost without vibrato, allowing it nevertheless to blare like a trumpet or lightening and darkening it effectively. Running the gamut of spite, desperation, pain and a little hope in this manner, he dared to advance into the torrid – “Ich hab‘ im Traum geweinet” (“I wept in my dream”). And Katz developed this further in the performances. As the last of the encores, Breslik treated us to a Slovakian folk song: a cappella.