Voice of authority

Thomas Quasthoff holds forth
By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  November 14, 2007

071116_quasthoff_main

German baritone Thomas Quasthoff has overcome adversity (his mother took Thalidomide) to become the outstanding German lieder singer of his generation — but that’s just part of his career, which has also taken in Bach cantatas, live staged opera (Don Fernando in Fidelio and Amfortas in Parsifal), and jazz (an “American Songbook” recital at Carnegie Hall last March and the 2007 Deutsche Grammophon release Watch What Happens — The Jazz Album). He made his Boston debut in 1998, singing Gustav Mahler’s sublime song cycle Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) with tenor Ben Heppner and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa. Now he and Heppner are back to perform the same piece November 19 with the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle, in a Celebrity Series presentation that’s Boston’s hottest classical-music event in years. Here’s what he had to say over the phone from Berlin.

Has your view of Das Lied von ver Erde changed since 1998?
My view hasn’t changed. But my voice changed. I’m much more experienced, I’m older, and since that time there is a very very close relationship to the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle. The fact that makes me extremely happy is that I’m doing this also again with Ben Heppner whom I love from the bottom of my heart not only as a great artist but also as a very very nice human being.

Do you sing with Ben often? 
No, not that often, but I love him very very much.

Have you sung Das Lied with Ben since 1998?
No, I haven’t. I haven’t been singing Das Lied so very often, because it’s a baritone piece, and my voice is now more and more in the bass-baritone role. I’m able to sing it, but I’m not doing it very often. But for this engagement I couldn’t say no. Carnegie Hall and the Boston Symphony and Boston again, and I love the Hall, even the people in Boston, I love Boston by itself very very much, so I’m really looking forward to coming.

How is doing Das Lied with Simon Rattle dfferent from doing it  with Seiji Ozawa? 
The question is a little problematic because I haven’t done it yet. The rehearsals are starting on Monday, and then I can tell you whether there’s really a big difference. But I think in many ways it’s a little bit comparable, because both Seiji and Simon are extremely impassioned conductors. The musical view will be different, but that I can tell you even better when I am starting rehearsals.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |   next >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, Glenn Gould,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY JEFFREY GANTZ
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MAMA KNOWS BEST: THE HUNTINGTON'S FEEL-GOOD A RAISIN IN THE SUN  |  March 19, 2013
    Fifty-four years after its groundbreaking Broadway premiere, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun remains as dense, and as concentrated, as its title fruit.
  •   LIGHT WAVES: BOSTON BALLET'S ''ALL KYLIÁN''  |  March 13, 2013
    A dead tree hanging upside down overhead, with a spotlight slowly circling it. A piano on stilts on one side of the stage, an ice sculpture's worth of bubble wrap on the other.
  •   HANDEL AND HAYDN'S PURCELL  |  February 04, 2013
    Set, rather confusingly, in Mexico and Peru, the 1695 semi-opera The Indian Queen is as contorted in its plot as any real opera.
  •   REVIEW: MAHLER ON THE COUCH  |  November 27, 2012
    Mahler on the Couch , from the father-and-son directing team of Percy and Felix Adlon, offers some creative speculation, with flashbacks detailing the crisis points of the marriage and snatches from the anguished first movement of Mahler's unfinished Tenth Symphony.
  •   THE NUTCRACKER: BUILDING A BETTER MOUSETRAP?  |  November 19, 2012
    "Without The Nutcracker , there'd be no ballet in America as we know it."

 See all articles by: JEFFREY GANTZ