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Ruby Hughes, Soprano
Julius Drake, Piano

Friday, October 13, 2017 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
Ruby Hughes by Barry Hale, Julius Drake by Marco Borggreve
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.


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 An Epithalamium (arr. Tippett)

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

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.

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. 


Ruby Hughes

Soprano Ruby Hughes made her debut at the Theater an der Wien in 2009 as Roggiero in Tancredi, conducted by René Jacobs, returning as Fortuna in L’incoronazione di Poppea. She ...

Soprano Ruby Hughes made her debut at the Theater an der Wien in 2009 as Roggiero in Tancredi, conducted by René Jacobs, returning as Fortuna in L’incoronazione di Poppea. She has sung major roles at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Buxton Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, Schwetzinger Festspiele, English National Opera, Garsington Opera, Scottish Opera, and Opéra de Toulon. She also performed in Jonathan Miller’s acclaimed production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at London’s National Theatre.

Additional festival appearances have included the BBC Proms with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and BBC Symphony Orchestra, as well as La Folle Journée, Gent OdeGand, Manchester International Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Spitalfields Summer Festival, Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival, and the Cheltenham, Lucerne, and Nuremberg festivals.

Ms. Hughes has broadcast and recorded extensively with many leading conductors. A passionate recitalist, she works closely with pianists Julius Drake and Joseph Middleton, and her 2016 solo recital recording debut Nocturnal Variations with Mr. Middleton for Champs Hill was named BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month. A champion of women composers, Ms. Hughes recently recorded Heroines of Love and Loss, which was named Editor’s Choice by Gramophone Magazine and received a Diapason d’Or award. In 2018, Ms. Hughes will release a recording for Chandos with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Laurence Cummings dedicated to Handel’s lyric muse Giulia Frasi.

Ms. Hughes’s recent and future performance highlights include Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä (also recorded for BIS); recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall (including a new commission by Helen Grime); and appearances at the Newbury Spring Festival, Göttingen International Handel Festival, Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, and Two Moors Festival. Ms. Hughes also performs with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; returns to the RIAS Kammerchor for performances of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen; and tours with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. 

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Julius Drake

Pianist Julius Drake lives in London and enjoys an international reputation as one of the finest instrumentalists in his field, collaborating with many of the world’s leading artists ...

Pianist Julius Drake lives in London and enjoys an international reputation as one of the finest instrumentalists in his field, collaborating with many of the world’s leading artists both in recital and on recordings. Mr. Drake appears regularly at all the major music festivals and venues, including the Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Munich Opera Festival, Salzburg Festival, BBC Proms, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

Mr. Drake’s many recordings include a widely acclaimed series with Gerald Finley for Hyperion, for which Songs by Samuel Barber, Schumann: Dichterliebe and Other Heine Settings, and Britten: Songs and Proverbs of William Blake won the 2007, 2009, and 2011 Gramophone Awards; award-winning recordings with Ian Bostridge for EMI; several recitals for Wigmore Hall Live with Alice Coote, Joyce DiDonato, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Christopher Maltman, and Matthew Polenzani, among others; Kodály and Schoeck sonatas with cellists Natalie Clein and Christian Poltéra for Hyperion and BIS; Tchaikovsky and Mahler with Christianne Stotijn for Onyx; English song with Bejun Mehta for Harmonia Mundi; and Schubert lieder (Poetisches Tagebuch) with Christoph Prégardien, winner of the 2017 German Record Critics’ Award.

Mr. Drake recently embarked on a major project to record the complete songs of Franz Liszt for Hyperion (the second recording in the series, with Angelika Kirchschlager, won the 2012 BBC Music Magazine Award), as well as a series of four Schubert recitals live at London’s Wigmore Hall with Mr. Bostridge.

Performances this season include the opening concert of Wigmore Hall’s 2017–2018 season with Mr. Finley and recitals in the Julius Drake and Friends series at London’s historic Middle Temple Hall with Iestyn Davies, Sophie Bevan, and Julia Kleiter. Mr. Drake also performs in Frankfurt, Dresden, Vienna, and Florence with Mr. Bostridge; Bristol and Barcelona with Mark Padmore; Madrid with Sarah Connolly; Geneva with Willard White; and at the Vienna State Opera with Ms. Kirchschlager. In addition, he tours North America with Mr. Bostridge, Ms. Coote, Mr. Finley, and Mr. Prégardien.

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