William Berger wows with his debut on Delphian
For his solo debut on disc, William Berger has devised an ingenious sequence of seventeen songs describing a sleepless night experienced by a man who reflects on his love for an unnamed woman. From Viennese classicism to fin-de-siècle Romanticism, shadowy English pastoral to the contemporary worlds of Richard Rodney Bennett and Raymond Yiu, this wide-ranging programme is brought to nuanced life by this outstanding young baritone. The indefatigable Iain Burnside provides lucid and imaginative accompaniment. Together, their performances vividly capture the full gamut of nocturnal emotions.
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A graduate and Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Berger is a former member of the Young Singers Programme at English National Opera. Recent engagements include singing Aeneas to Susan Graham's Dido on tour in California, and his recital debut at the Lucerne International Festival. Pianist Iain Burnside has forged a worldwide reputation through his commitment to the song repertoire and his collaborations with leading international singers.
Discussing the disc's narrative, Berger writes:
'The story is somewhat ambiguous. While it opens with a series of odes to the beauty of the night, the protagonist’s thoughts turn to death and darker things before setting off on a mad dash on horseback to declare his undying love in serenade below the balcony of his unresponsive lover. Eventually falling asleep due to sheer exhaustion, he finds she haunts his dreams and he wakes with a renewed infatuation for her. But is she dead or alive? And if she is indeed alive, is it an unrequited love or the end of a relationship? Her silence seems incredibly hard-hearted to me. The answer is that I don’t know and I like it that each and every listener can draw their own conclusion. For me the story also has kept changing over time.' (theartsdesk.com)
'His tone is beautiful, his technique immaculate. He does extraordinary things with breath control in Oh! Quand Je Dors and Wolf's Um Mitternacht, and his sense of line is exceptional. None of the tracks disappoint, though his way with French song – sweepingly sensual rather than reined-in and delicate – is persuasive. Pianist Iain Burnside is wonderfully responsive to his shifts in mood and style. An idiosyncratic disc, but very fine.' – Guardian, August 2012
Schubert: Auf der Bruck
R. Strauss: Morgen!
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