Veteran mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter appeared in recital at Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon with pianist Christopher Berner. The first part of the programme was some fairly gentle Mozart with some fairly light weight Weckerlin and one long Schubert piece; “Die Viola”. A short Mozart piano piece rounded out the programme. It was stylish, enjoyable singing but one felt that both choice of material and method of presentation were being chosen to conserve the voice. How would things go after the interval when three songs from Winterreise were promised?
Things started off again with some short, tuneful songs in Swedish by Lindblad and Geijer plus another piano solo before we got to hear “Fruhlungstraum”, “Die Post” and “Die Lindenbaum”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them sung quite like this. Even Christian Gerhaher is more overtly dramatic. Von Otter sung them with great subtlety and attention to the text but few, if any, histriionics. I don’t think she went past mezzo-forte more than maybe three times. Another solo piano piece led into two more Schubert songs in similar vein before an encore of a pretty little song by Lindblad.
Even if von Otter was going easy on her instrument she still charmed. She’s a great mover and I really like the gesture a couple of times to wander around the piano and sing to the audience at the sides and behind the stage. Maybe not a thrilling afternoon but really quite satisfying.