Classical Music

Carolyn Sampson & Joseph Middleton

Reason in Madness

Monday 22 May 7.30pm

St Peter Mancroft

Carolyn Sampson looks wistfully off camera in a opulent room
Carolyn Sampson

© Marco Borgreve

Carolyn Sampson soprano
Joseph Middleton piano

Schuman Herzlied
Brahms Ophelia Lieder
Strauss Drei Lieder der Ophelia
Wolf Mignon Lieder
Duparc Romance de Mignon
Faure Melisande’s Song
Debussy Trois chansons de Bilitis
Saint-Saens La mort d’Ophelie
Chausson Chanson d’Ophelie
Duparc Au pays ou se fait la guerre
Poulenc La dame de Monte-Carlo

Fêted for her versatility, expressivity and impeccable technique, Carolyn Sampson is now a household name. Having built a reputation on her immaculate performances of the Baroque repertoire, more recently she has become celebrated for her persuasive interpretations of the Romantic Lied. Her debut solo recording with pianist Joseph Middleton, Fleurs, earned a nomination at the 2015 Gramophone awards and this recital delves once again into the world of programmatic song, showcasing her extraordinary character portrayals.

Centring around settings of Shakespeare’s Ophelia, Hamlet’s doomed sister who drowns herself in a brook, Sampson’s programme takes us on a tour of literary madness. Many of these songs, including Saint-Saëns’ bleak depiction of Ophelia’s watery death, are steeped in melancholy. But others, such as Poulenc’s setting of a poem by Cocteau that describes an aged lady, worse for wears and hell-bent on gambling, seem to revel in the delight of self-destruction. Brahms’ Ophelia Lieder were written as incidental music for a play, making use of Shakespeare’s original text in a way that suggests they were woven into the fabric of the unfolding narrative. But it is Strauss’ towering Drei Lieder der Ophelia that reveals the sad truth – that there is reason in Ophelia’s madness, that she seeks little more than love and companionship, and all she is rewarded with is abandonment and sorrow.

Performance runs: c. 1 hr 40 mins

Visit Carolyn Sampson's website here

Visit Joseph Middleton's website here

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