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Past Events > 2015

FREE POP-UP CONCERT: Rainer Maria Rilke

18 October 2015, 15:00 - 15:30


This event will be broadcast from Holywell Music Room

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Jacques Imbrailo baritone
Alisdair Hogarth piano

The first of our ‘pop-up masterpieces’. These concerts are completely free: no need to book, just turn up and enjoy a single work where poet and composer meet on equal terms.

Stephen Hough’s Herbstlieder, five settings of Rilke, was premiered at the Oxford Lieder Festival in 2010 by Jacques Imbralio and Alisdair Hogarth. We are delighted that these two star artists can return for today's performance. See what The Times said about that performance back in 2010 below.

From The Times, October 2010:

The pianist Stephen Hough travels the world with concertos and recitals, writes about theology and faith, and is an indefatigable blogger. But that’s not enough. He composes as well — and his latest work, a song cycle called Herbstlieder, was given its world premiere at the Oxford Lieder Festival.

These five autumnal settings of the poetry of Rilke are a rich harvesting of much that has played into Hough’s own musical life. There are shades of Zemlinsky and Schoenberg in the harmonic palette and aching leaps of the first song, 'Herbsttag'; the following 'Klage' seems like a long-missing extra song from Schubert’s Schwanengesang; and spectres of Mahler and Richard Strauss drift through the final two pieces, 'Bestürz mich, Musik' and 'Herbst'.

And yet these songs speak with a distinctive and free voice of their own — one which is beautifully sensitive to the inflection of Rilke’s verse, is not afraid of white space and silence, and which gives the pianist just as much to work on as the singer. Alisdair Hogarth proved the point, flexing his pianistic muscle in rhapsody, in bare chords and in ripe, overflowing figuration.

Jacques Imbrailo’s performance was outstanding: this baritone’s recent successes in opera have perhaps blinded both audiences and entrepreneurs to his potential for being not only a good, but a great lieder singer too.

The Oxford Lieder Festival celebrates lieder as such, but it is also determined to commission and present the newest of new song. Hough’s cycle will be a valuable addition to the repertoire.

Artist Portrait

Jacques Imbrailo

Jacques Imbrailo


A regular at many of the most prestigious opera houses throughout the world, baritone Jacques Imbrailo has collaborated with conductors, directors and orchestras of the highest calibre and is one of the most in demand artists of his generation. In the 2019/20 season, highlights for Imbrailo include his role debut as Marcello in Barrie Kosky’s production of La Boheme at the at the Komische Oper Berlin, Albert Werther at the The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, his house debut at The Bolshoi Theatre as Aeneas Dido and Aeneas, and a r... Read Full Biography
Artist Portrait

Alisdair Hogarth

Alisdair Hogarth


With a prominent background in both solo and song-accompaniment, Alisdair Hogarth is a versatile pianist combining a robust technique with a fresh, contemporary approach. He made his concerto debut in 1996 as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Hogarth has studied with Philip Fowke and John Blakely. Hogarth has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Performances have included recitals at Wigmore Hall (including live evening recitals for BBC Radio 3) and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as rec... Read Full Biography

This event is part of a series:

2015 Festival: Singing Words: poets and their songs

Singing Words: Poets and their Songs celebrates the glorious and varied poetry of song and emphasises this unique meeting of words and music. Following the triumph of last year’s ‘The Schubert Project’ and our recent Royal Philharmonic Society Award, we are pleased to present another stellar array of world-renowned artists in the heart of Oxford. Many of the programmes are bas...

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