‘Spring Schubertiade’ presents impressive classical program

Last Thursday, Richard Giarusso ’00 and Sean Gallagher celebrated the work of famed classical musician Franz Schubert with their “Spring Schubertiade” recital in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall. Giarusso, currently the chair of the department of musicology at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, sang baritone in the performance. Gallagher, who is a faculty member at the New England Conservatory as well as a dedicated and accomplished music historian, was the pianist for the night. Together, the talented duo powerfully performed 12 of Schubert’s most famous late-life compositions.

Franz Schubert was an educator and a songwriter who produced much of his work in the early 18th century. For many, Schubert was one of the last true classical composers, as during his lifetime he was thrust into the early beginnings of the romantic period. A Schubertiade, thus, is a celebration of Schubert’s work. At first, these performances were gatherings of wealthy elites in the 19th century, but over time, they became more general performances of his work.

This particular show did a tremendous job of exhibiting the variation in the work of the composer, who is known for his intense modulation, movement and experimentation. Specifically, Giarusso and Gallagher focused on songs created in the last three years of Schubert’s life – a dramatic selection focusing on one of the most creative periods of his career. I was especially intrigued by Die Winteraband, D. 938. The song highlighted Schubert’s lyrical genius, paired with an incredible piano composition, and allowed Giarusso and Gallagher to take the audience on a dubious ride.

Following the brief intermission, the duo performed five more songs, ending with Die Taubenpost, D. 965a. The piece was exquisite and enticing – Giarusso and Gallagher chose the perfect mixture of excitement and energy to end the concert. Taubenpost depicts the journey by which a man works to bridge the distance between him and his lover, in the most alluring way (“Taubenpost” literally means pigeon post – he uses pigeons as letter carriers). It was the perfect way to end the evening, showcasing once again an exceptional piece by Schubert in a unique and impressive collection.

“We don’t hear this wonderful music enough,” Professor of Music Marjorie Hirsch said of Thursday’s recital. “Their selection of songs, which Schubert composed in the late 1820s shortly before his death, ranged from stunningly beautiful to lightly humorous to utterly horrifying.”

The concert was definitely a success for the music department. Schubert is an excellent composer who should be celebrated along with all of the greats. More importantly, it was great to welcome back an alumnus to perform such appreciable music. All in all, the “Spring Schubertiade” was a wonderful experience had by all.

“Musicologists as well as active performers, Richard and Sean conveyed a deep understanding of Schubert’s Romanticism,” Hirsch said. “Their performance was riveting.” I would have to agree.

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