Harry Sever


Recitals

"Die schöne Müllerin"
(Schubert)

3 February 2006
Harry Sever in Concert (8:00pm)
Holywell Music Room
Holywell Street
Oxford

For additional information see BCSD

13 February 2006
Celebrate Belfast: Schubert (7:45pm)
Belfast City Hall
Donegall Square
Belfast

For additional information see BCSD

The Program

 

Die Schöne Müllerin, D 795, Op. 25 (1823)
The Miller’s Beautiful Daughter

Music by Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)
Text by Wilhelm Müller (1794 – 1827)

 Harry Sever, Treble
Nadanai Laohakunakorn, Piano

1. Das Wandern
2. Wohin?
3. Halt!
4. Danksagung an den Bach
5. Am Feierabend
6. Der Neugierige
7. Ungeduld
8.

Morgengruβ

9. Des Müllers Blumen
10. Tränenregen
11. Mein!
12. Pause
13. Mit dem grünen Lautenbande
14. Der Jäger
15. Eifersucht und Stolz
16. Die liebe Farbe
17. Die böse Farbe
18 Trockne Blumen
19. Der Müller und der Bach
20. Des Baches Wiegenlied

Die Schöne Müllerin 

Die Schöne Müllerin is essentially a Romantic song cycle. Despite the common view that Schubert was a Classical composer, Müllerin contains a paradoxical juxtaposition of simple Classical forms and Romantic emotional intensity. This is apparent in even the simplest strophic songs, such as the final lullaby. However, Müllerin’s simplicity is superficial. Both the underlying plot and music are intrinsically complex.

The story is one of innocence and naivety in the young miller, who sets out on life’s journey, only to be tragically dragged under by unrequited love. Throughout, the miller presents to the audience numerous soliloquies describing his feelings – and the audience can only listen with pathos as the miller draws erroneous conclusions and commits himself to them, the culmination of which is his suicide.

The genius of Schubert meant that the music, rather than accompanying the text, becomes a running commentary to it. The emotions are described almost too explicitly by the music, which in itself is very carefully constructed. The sense of journey is expressed in the music by the various key relationships, the most obvious one being the difference of an augmented fourth between the first song’s B flat major and the final song’s E major. Accompaniment figures are used to great effect, such as the piano’s rippling semiquavers representing the brook, and the circular movement of left-hand figures in Halt!, representing the turn of the mill wheel.

The essence of Müllerin, however, lies in the inconsistency of human emotions and in the contrast between those things that are manoeuvrable and others that are unchangeable. The only thing that keeps the story from being one of utter depression is the continuation of the things that the boy holds dear to him. Even though he may find comfort only in the grave, both his love for the girl, and his closest friend, the ever-flowing brook, can never be destroyed. The music and Schubertian lilt flows eternally, whilst anger, and jealousy, and ultimately despair felt by the miller dies with him, leaving only the pure emotion Love, from which all the aforementioned sentiments stem, remaining.

A performance of Die Schöne Müllerin by a treble will always be controversial as Schubert intended the cycle to be sung by a tenor. However, justification lies in the fact that the miller himself is youthful and inexperienced, which can be lost when sung by someone inside whom the fire of animated excitement has died with age. Moreover, the miller’s obsession with the girl, his over-interpretation of her every word, his almost tantrum-like fury at the arrival of the hunter and his subsequent abject despair are suggestive more of an adolescent ‘crush’ than a mature relationship. In this context, it seems entirely appropriate (though not what Schubert intended) for the piece to be performed by a younger singer; after all, can anyone be better placed to understand and express such extreme mood swings than a teenaged boy?

Die Schöne Müllerin is a masterpiece which draws on all aspects of human emotion. Despite the obvious question that naturally arises with an “unusual” presentation of it, in the end the piece is all about the eternal music: it is in performance that the music can be channeled through the singer,  rather than the singer through the music; so that a journey can be made by performers and audiences alike.

This performance is given in fond memory of the late Nicholas Wright, of Tadpole Music, who had the faith and vision to allow us to record Die Schöne Müllerin, with gratitude for his support and encouragement.

Harry Sever and Nadanai Laohakunakorn
January 2006


Nadanai Laohakunakorn and Harry Sever
Winchester College cloisters

Nadanai Laohakunakorn

Nadanai Laohakunakorn was born in Bangkok and started taking piano lessons at the age of four. He moved with his family to the United States in 1994 and settled in South Carolina, where he continued his piano studies. He began attending school in England in 2000 and won music and academic scholarships to Winchester College in 2001. Nadanai currently studies the piano with Robert Bottone, the Head of Keyboards at Winchester College. He has performed extensively in the United States and Thailand and gives regular performances in Winchester and London. Recent engagements include performances of Debussy’s first book of Preludes and Beethoven’s ‘Waldstein’ sonata, as well as a solo appearance at Draper’s Hall in London at a charity concert. Nadanai also accompanies the school’s top musicians regularly and has recently recorded Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin with Harry for Tadpole Music.

As well as playing the piano, Nadanai plays violin and organ. He hopes to carry on with his music at university, although he also has many other academic interests.


Harry Sever

14 year-old Harry started singing lessons at the age of five, having been ‘spotted’ singing ‘Away in a Manger’ at a school carol concert by soprano and vocal coach, Evelyn Jenkins. He continued to study with Evelyn for three years, until he was awarded a Choral Scholarship to The Pilgrims’ School in Winchester.  Harry went on to be Head Quirister of the Winchester College Chapel Choir, was BBC Choirboy of the Year in 2003 and, in September 2004, took up musical and academic scholarships at Winchester College, where he studies singing with James Ottaway.

Harry has appeared as a soloist numerous times, including recent performances of Bernstein’s
Chichester Psalms, Fauré’s Requiem, Hear My Prayer, Bach’s St John Passion (2002) and Bach’s Magnificat (2004), both in Winchester. In addition, he featured in the BBC’s ‘Big Sing’ in London in 2003, and also in ‘Easter Glory’, again for the BBC (Winchester, 2004). Recent performances include as a soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at the Barbican in London, and singing the role of Miles in Turn of the Screw in Cambridge, as well as First Boy in Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s production of 'The Magic Flute’. Harry and Nadanai regularly give recitals of English song and Lieder in both Winchester and London.

In addition to his concert performances, Harry also has also featured in a number of broadcasts, including BBC Radio 2 ‘Easter Glory’ (April 2004), BBC Radio 3’s Proms series (July 2003), BBC Radio 2’s ‘Sunday Half Hour’ (December 2003 & January, August and December 2004) and BBC Radio 4’s morning services (December 2003). He also took part in Songs of Praise’s Ascension Day programme in May2005, and has appeared live on Czech national television as part of a tour to the country in 2002.

Harry sang at a televised Variety Club’s tribute lunch to Esther Rantzen, OBE, joining Katherine Jenkins as a guest artist and also joined Sir Cliff Richard and Olivia Newton-John in an evening at Hampton Court Palace in aid of the Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation. In March 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall, Harry joined Aled Jones, Russell Watson, Amici Forever, G4 and a host of guest artists in supporting the SOS Children’s Charity concert in aid of child Tsunami victims. He performed alongside Imelda Staunton in the BBC family Christmas concerts in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in December 2005, with the BBC Concert Orchestra and John Wilson.

Harry’s recordings include
Something’s Coming by the Winchester College Quiristers (2002), Hear My Prayer by the Winchester College Chapel Choir, on which he is the featured soloist, (2004), Fauré’s Requiem with the Boys Air Choir (2004), and ‘My Own Country’, a solo album of English songs with pianist Robert Bottone (2005).  He was thrilled to be given the opportunity by the late Nicholas Wright, of Tadpole records, to record Die schöne Műllerin, thereby fulfilling a longstanding ambition.

Aside from his singing, Harry’s musical talent extends to the piano and viola and organ; he regularly plays the organ for services at Winchester College Chapel. In addition to this, Harry also enjoys cricket, soccer, tennis, rackets and drama. His other interests include opera, films and travel.

Copyright © 2005 Judy Sever

Material for this page was furnished by Judy Sever and is used with permission.

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This page was last modified on 31 January 2006