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South Berkshire Concerts: Schubert's song-cycle "Die Winterreise" (Winter's Journey), with John Cheek, bass-baritone, and Larry Wallach, piano

When:   Sun Dec 04 • 3:00 pm

Where:   Kellogg Music Center

In his introduction to the published score, Professor Max Müller, son of the poet Wilhelm Müller, remarks that Schubert's two song-cycles have a dramatic effect not unlike that of a full-scale tragic opera, particularly when performed by great singers…. Like Die schöne Müllerin, Schubert's Winterreise is not merely a collection of songs upon a single theme (lost or unrequited love) but is in effect one single dramatic monologue, lasting over an hour in performance.… The intensity and the emotional inflexions of the poetry are carefully built up to express the sorrows of the lover, and are developed to an almost pathological degree from the first to the last note.

The songs represent the voice of the poet as the lover, and form a distinct narrative and dramatic sequence…. In the course of the cycle the poet, whose beloved now fancies someone else, leaves his beloved's house secretly at night, quits the town and follows the river and the steep ways to a village. Having longed for death, he is at last reconciled to his loneliness. The cold, darkness, and barren winter landscape mirror the feelings in his heart, and he encounters various people and things along the way which form the subject of the successive songs during his lonely journey. It is in fact an allegorical journey of the heart.

John CheekOne of the most accomplished singers of our time, John Cheek continually meets with high acclaim for his artistic productions. Since his initial debut, he appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in more than 360 performances; his roles include the title role in Le nozze di Figaro (at Lincoln Center and on tour in Japan), Leporello in Don Giovanni, Publio in La clemenza di Tito and Don Alfonso in Cosi Fan Tutte, as well as Colline in La Boheme and Alvise in La Gioconda. Mr. Cheek performed these roles with James Levine conducting.

His versatility reflects a repertoire encompassing an enormous variety of music, ranging from the Baroque era to many world premieres by composers such as Sir Michael Tippett, Ned Rorem, and David Diamond. Mr. Cheek created the role of Lawyer Royal in Stephen Paulus’s Summer, and the title role in Romeo Cascarino’s William Penn at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

His many recordings include The Rake’s Progress (Nick Shadow) conducted by Robert Craft, Handel’s Messiah (RCA), Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the New Jersey Symphony, Handel’s last opera Deidameia (Albany), and Haydn’s Creation, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and Boito’s Mefistofele: Prologue with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony.

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