December 15, 2016

Tenor Nicholas Phan launches the New Year auspiciously with the release on January 13 of Gods & Monsters, his fourth solo album on the Avie label. Teaming up once again with his long-time recital partner, Myra Huang, on the new recording Phan sings a wide-ranging program of German lieder inspired by fairy tales, traversing both familiar and lesser-known works by Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Beethoven, Schumann, Wolf and Mendelssohn (a complete track list follows below). “Gods & Monsters” will also be Phan’s program when he makes his debut at London’s world-renowned Wigmore Hall on February 26. Before that major career milestone, the tenor sings selections from Beethoven’s Irish Folk Songs and Vaughan Williams’s song cycle On Wenlock Edge on a tour with musicians from the Marlboro Festival that features stops at Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum (Jan 22), New York’s Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall, Jan 23), the Library of Congress in Washington DC (Jan 25), and the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia (Jan 26). Click here to see a video preview of Gods & Monsters.

Additional highlights for Phan in the first half of 2017 include a new recording with Apollo’s Fire, slated for release in March, of Bach’s St. John Passion, in which he sings both the Evangelist and tenor arias; a return engagement with the Cleveland Orchestra for performances of that same work led by music director Franz Welser-Möst; a fully staged performance of the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Colorado Symphony and Cristian Măcelaru; a debut with the Nashville Symphony for performances and a live recording of John Harbison’s Requiem, led by the orchestra’s music director, Giancarlo Guerrero; and two programs with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by music director Michael Tilson Thomas (June 23-26) and Herbert Blomstedt (Feb 1-3 & 5).

Gods & Monsters

In the liner notes for Gods & Monsters, Phan explains how an early experience of performing art songs for schoolchildren (as an outreach component of one of the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s National Artist Residencies in Oberlin, Ohio) was a pivotal turning point in his approach to performance:

“When one is singing for an audience of five-year-olds, even a two-minute song can feel like an eternity. It was a transformative experience for me, and it revolutionized my approach to performance. No matter the audience, I feel that the same techniques apply. One has to mine every detail and pretend that they are telling a tall tale around a campfire. No stone can be left unturned, and every colorful extreme must be brought to life.”

Perhaps it was this approach to his art that led Opera News to call Phan, “a singer who communicates with the immediacy of a contemporary singer-songwriter.” As for the Gods & Monsters program itself, Phan once again credits the influence of young people:

“As more and more children have entered our lives, most notably my longtime recital partner Myra Huang’s two daughters and my niece, storytelling has become a greater part of our personal lives, leading us to this fun program of songs about various myths, legends and fairy tales. Almost all the great giants of the German Lieder repertoire are represented, and every song is one of these composers’ musically imaginative retellings of stories about various gods, monsters, witches, kings, knights and all sorts of other fantastical creatures.”

Phan ingeniously groups the songs into four illustrative categories. Under the heading “Mount Olympus,” he begins with an all-Schubert set inspired by Greek mythology. The “Knights and Kings” section comprises selections by Schubert, Brahms and Beethoven, as well two songs from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. “Things That Go Bump in the Night” features songs by Schubert, Schumann, Wolf and Mendelssohn. Schumann and Wolf also provide lieder for the “Fairy Tales” section, which is followed by an appropriate “Postlude”: Brahms’s Sandmännchen (Little Sandman). Click here to see Phan singing a complete take of Mahler’s “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen” from the recording sessions.

Gods & Monsters is Phan’s fourth solo album for Avie Records. His previous recordings for the label are two celebrated collections of songs by Benjamin Britten and A Painted Tale: a pastiche cycle of early English songs assembled by the tenor himself, which was chosen as one of the “Best Classical Albums of 2015” by the Chicago Tribune and named a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice.”

Phan launched the current season curating and singing at the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago’s fifth annual Collaborative Works Festival, of which he is Artistic Director, and made his debut in Asia in September performing and recording Bach cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan in Kobe and Tokyo. He also sang the title role in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex to great acclaim in San Francisco with Esa-Pekka Salonen and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Phan for “[throwing] himself into the title role with a valiant blend of elegance and almost heedless fervor.” San Francisco Classical Voice reported:

“With his Italian-sounding Latin pronunciation and the bel canto coloratura Stravinsky wrote into the part, Nicholas Phan’s Oedipus called to mind the tragic heroes of Bellini and Donizetti. His powerful, piercing tenor was ideal for the prideful monarch – Phan even incorporated some genuine shouting as the paranoid Oedipus accuses Creon of plotting against him. Elsewhere, the tenor made use of his lovely, floating head-voice in order to imbue his seemingly confident character with a certain vulnerability.”

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

Gods & Monsters is available for pre-order now from Amazon and i-tunes.

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Gods & Monsters

Nicholas Phan, tenor

Myra Huang, piano

Available January 13, 2017 on Avie Records

MOUNT OLYMPUS
Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

  • “An die Leier,” D737
  • “Ganymed,” D544
  • “Atys,” D585
  • “Der Musensohn,” D764

KNIGHTS & KINGS
Franz Schubert

  • “Der Sänger,” D149

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)

  • “Es war ein Markgraf überm Rhein,” WoO 33 No. 29

Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)

  • “Rheinlegendchen” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, No. 8
  • “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen,” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, No. 10

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

  • “Aus Goethe’s Faust,” Op. 75 No. 3

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Franz Schubert

  • “Der Zwerg,” D771

Robert Schumann (1810–1856)

  • “Waldesgespräch” from Liederkreis, Op. 39 No. 3

Hugo Wolf (1860–1903)

  • “Der Feuerreiter” from Mörike-Lieder, No. 44

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847)

  • “Hexenlied,” Op. 8 No. 8

FAIRY TALES
Robert Schumann

  • “Der Sandmann,” Op. 79 No. 13

Hugo Wolf

  • “Der Rattenfänger” from Goethe-Lieder, No. 11
  • “Elfenlied” from Mörike-Lieder, No. 16
  • “Storchenbotschaft” from Mörike-Lieder, No. 48

POSTLUDE
Johannes Brahms

  • “Sandmännchen,” WoO 31 No. 4

Nicholas Phan: Upcoming engagements

Jan 22
Boston, MA
Isabella Gardner Museum
Musicians from Marlboro Festival
Beethoven: Selections from Irish Folk Songs, WoO 152
Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge 

Jan 23
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall – Weill Recital Hall
Musicians from Marlboro Festival
Beethoven: Selections from Irish Folk Songs, WoO 152
Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge 

Jan 25
Washington, DC
Library of Congress
Musicians from Marlboro Festival
Beethoven: Selections from Irish Folk Songs, WoO 152
Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge 

Jan 26
Philadelphia, PA
Perelman Theater
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Musicians from Marlboro Festival
Beethoven: Selections from Irish Folk Songs, WoO 152
Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge 

Jan 29
Greenwich, CT
Cole Auditorium
Musicians from Marlboro Festival
Beethoven: Selections from Irish Folk Songs, WoO 152
Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge 

Feb 1-3 & 5
San Francisco, CA
Davies Hall
San Francisco Symphony / Herbert Blomstedt
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Feb 26
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
Gods & Monsters
Selected songs by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann & Wolf
Myra Huang, piano

March 4
Sonoma, CA
Green Music Center
Schroeder Hall
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Eric Zivian, fortepiano
Schubert: selected songs

March 10-12
Cleveland, OH
Severance Hall
Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst
Bach: St. John Passion

March 22
San Francisco, CA
Salons at the Rex
San Francisco Performances
Gods & Monsters
Selected songs by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann & Wolf
Robert Mollicone, piano

April 7 & 8
Raleigh, NC
Meymandi Hall
North Carolina Symphony / Grant Llewellyn
Britten: War Requiem

May 5 & 7
Denver, CO
Boettcher Hall
Colorado Symphony / Cristian Măcelaru
Bach: St. Matthew Passion (Evangelist)

May 12 & 13
Nashville, TN
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Nashville Symphony / Giancarlo Guerrero
Harbison: Requiem

May 25 & 26
Calgary, CANADA
Knox United Church
Calgary Philharmonic / Matthew Halls
Bach: St. Mark Passion

June 3 & 4
Hong Kong, HK
Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Hong Kong Philharmonic / Karina Canellakis
Orff: Carmina Burana

June 23-26
San Francisco, CA
Davies Hall
San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas
Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette  

 

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© 21C Media Group, December 2016