Performance Friday, October 13, 2017 | 7:30 PM

Ruby Hughes, Soprano
Julius Drake, Piano

Weill Recital Hall
Schumann’s rapturous Op. 39 Liederkreis, an exotic song cycle by Debussy, a new work by Huw Watkins commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and more are showcased by soprano Ruby Hughes. “Hughes’s voice is ravishing, her interpretations wonderfully fresh,” wrote Gramophone. She is joined by Julius Drake, one of the great collaborative pianists, for a fascinating recital.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Ruby Hughes, Soprano
  • Julius Drake, Piano


  • PURCELL "Music for a while" (arr. Tippett)
  • PURCELL "O lead me to some peaceful gloom" from Bonduca (arr. Tippett)
  • PURCELL "O solitude, my sweetest choice" (arr. Britten)
  • PURCELL An Epithalamium (arr. Tippett)
  • PURCELL "Sweeter than roses" (arr. Britten)
  • SCHUMANN Liederkreis, Op. 39
  • DEBUSSY Chansons de Bilitis
  • RAVEL Deux mélodies hébraïques
  • HUW WATKINS Echo (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BRITTEN A Charm of Lullabies

At a Glance

This evening’s program begins with five theatrical songs by late–17th-century English composer Henry Purcell as arranged by two 20th-century English composers, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett. The melodies and bass lines are Purcell’s, but details of the accompaniments are expressive of the later composers’ sensibilities; these songs trace an evocative arc between the Baroque and Modern eras. We next hear Liederkreis, Op. 39, from Robert Schumann’s “miracle year of song.” Schumann selected 12 individual poems by German Romantic poet Joseph von Eichendorff, set them to some of his most evocative music for song, and arranged them in an order of his own devising.

As the 19th century came to a close, Claude Debussy set three of his friend Pierre Louÿs’s “fake-Greek” Chansons de Bilitis to music of great sensuality and melancholy. Debussy’s resolve to compose in a French manner—without Germanic influence—is on beautiful display here. Another modernist French composer, Maurice Ravel was born in Basque country and was always fascinated by folk music and musical exoticism. His later works include Deux mélodies hébraïques, one an exquisite setting of a traditional prayer for the dead and hymn of praise to God, and the other a wry Yiddish comment on life and the world.

This evening’s program also includes the world premiere of Echo by Huw Watkins, a noted composer and pianist and professor of composition at London’s Royal College of Music. Poems by Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Philip Larkin, William Butler Yeats, and David Harsent come to musical life in Watkins’s distinctive style. The program concludes with Britten’s interpretation of a group of five lullabies by different poets (William Blake, Robert Burns, and three minor Elizabethan and Jacobean poets) for singer Nancy Evans. Here, babies are lulled, praised, loved, and even cursed to sleep. 
Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
This performance is part of Great Singers III: Evenings of Song.

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