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Geoffrey Álvarez: Hölderlinfenster

April Frederic (soprano)
Alessandro Viale (piano)

The German Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin spent most of his life in isolation in a tower on the banks of the Neckar river, following a mental illness. His poems have long fascinated composers. 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of his birth. The Nicaraguan-British composer Geoffrey Álvarez’s monumental song cycle, “Hölderlinfenster” imagines the poet through a “frame” of Schubert’s “Schwanengesang”. Poet and composer never met in real life but perhaps here their spirits do. Álvarez writes music of great intensity and intimate drama on a sometimes epic scale. His highly personal tonal language defies easy categorisation but conveys a “Hölderlin river journey” with admirable expressiveness.



Geoffrey Álvarez: Hölderlinfenster I. Vorspiel II. Der Nekar III. Wie Meeresküsten... IV. Ihr sichergebaueten Alpen... V. Der Spaziergang VI. Die Asyle VII. In Lieblicher Bläue... VIII. Der Ister IX. Lebenslauf X. An Zimmern XI. Die Wanderung XII. An die Parzen XIII. Vom Delphin XIV. Das fröhliche Leben  XV. Die Heimath XVI. Burg Tübingen

Recorded, mixed and mastered: Spencer Cozens, Steinway Recording, Fulbeck
Sound editor: Peter Seabourne
Design: Peter and Marcelle Seabourne Programme notes: Geoffrey Álvarez
Photography: Alessandro Viale, Ralf Brückmann, Curt Knoke Álvarez photo: Philip Costen
Booklet translations: Elisabeth and Ralf Brückmann, Valérie Lawitschka
Hölderlin specialist advisor: Valérie Lawitschka
Project Producers: Peter Seabourne and Ermanno De Stefani ©Sheva 2020
Total Time: 118:37
Release Date: June 2020

April Fredrick (soprano)Hailed as "astonishing and luminous" (Bachtracks), soprano April Fredrick’s world premiere performance with ESO as the lead in John Joubert’s Jane Eyre was described as  "utterly rivetting, with a terrific dramatic sense" (Music and Vision) and voted BBC Classical Music Magazine’s Premiere of the Year.

An Associate Artist with the English Symphony Orchestra, she has a passion for nuance and text, and as a lover of words, she has always felt a special attraction to song, taking special pleasure in finding ways to colour sound to bring songs to life.

Born in rural Wisconsin, she studied voice at the University of Northwestern St Paul, then took both an MMus and PhD at the Royal Academy of Music, where she researched the life, music and poetry of Ivor Gurney. There she also worked often with the innovative York Gate research groups and discovered the joy of combining research and performance to open the riches of the music she loves to audiences new and old. She also had the chance to work with Laurence Cummings and the Historical Performance Department, an experience that revolutionised her ideas of phrasing and ensemble. 

Based in London, April has recently sung John Joubert’s An English Requiem with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Adrian Partington, and she has also appeared with the Warsaw Chamber Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra. With a growing reputation for championing new works, April premiered and recorded Philip Sawyers’ Songs of Loss and Regret with the ESO and Laurence Osborn’sMicrographia with the Riot Ensemble. Other recent premieres include David Matthew’s Le Lac with the Orchestra of the Swan and Eric McElroy’s cycle The Fetch, while forthcoming premieres include Philip Sawyers’ Mayflower on the Sea of Time with the ESO.

Alessandro Viale (piano)Born in Rome, Alessandro Viale is an eclectic musician who believes in the artist as a well-rounded person, active in society. This is why he studied piano, harpsichord, composition, conducting and chamber music, not to mention a degree in physics.

In his career to date, Alessandro has conducted orchestras and choirs, founded ensembles, has been the accompanist in national and international competitions and for important European conservatoires. He has won several prizes, composed a film score, played extensively in many important venues in the UK, Norway, Germany, India, Malta, Spain, and Italy.

He has appeared on radio and TV, his music being performed and broadcast throughout Europe by renowned musicians. His collaboration with composers has resulted in the world premiere of a significant number of new pieces, many written for him. He has recorded several CDs of piano solo and chamber music, which have been reviewed in prestigious magazines such as Gramophone, Musical Opinion, BBC Music Magazine, and The Financial Times. From Baroque to contemporary music, from the piano to the podium, he refuses to be typecast!

SH250     View Booklet

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