Christoph & Julian Prégardien

Father & Son

Format: SACD hybrid
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917264524
Catnr: CC 72645
Release date: 21 November 2014
1 SACD hybrid
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72645
Release date
21 November 2014

About the album

The conditions under which Schubert’s art of the song developed into a kaleidoscopically incandescent spectrum that crossed over genres and the institutionally set, historical boundaries disappear today as a rule under the pedestal that the late nineteenth century began to erect for the composer. The traces of improvisational practice were increasingly lost within a music culture that stylised the printed manuscript into a quasi sacred object. A particularly successful way of leading back to a fundamental impetus in Schubert’s art of the song is through an approach towards the songs that takes the moment of spontaneous performance seriously as a communicative act, without denying the work character of Schubert’s music. The idea of ‘one’ universal human voice seems to materialise with particular intensity in the commingling of two voices of similar timbre, which can permanently interchange and double their identity. Based on our knowledge for instance of the Schubertiade reminiscences of 1868, remembered and noted down by Moritz von Schwind, can we not imagine that the ‘Schubert singers’ Johann Michael Vogl and Karl von Schönstein might indeed have sung alternately (or even in unison)?

Christoph Prégardien:
When a second part suddenly crops up in a Schubert song, many people say of course: are we allowed to do this to Schubert? Even I had to be persuaded at first to consider the improvisational element, however, our approach to adopting it didn’t happen arbitrarily, but in the context of our awareness of music-making in past centuries.

Michael Gees:
You can formulate reasons that aren’t based on historical knowledge but ensue from the music itself. "Nacht und Träume” (Night and Dreams), for example – you listen to this music, you hear that it bears a potential within: the potential of starting out from the rather simple structure and being able to ramify practically into endlessness. This opens up spaces in which you can go on fantasising without bounds. In this context our versions are not actually “contrived”, but formed by “eavesdropping” on the music itself to a certain degree. If I hear it, I hear something like another “I”, another self, a corresponding multi-voice being.

Julian Prégardien:
In our arrangements we first and foremost wanted an encounter with the prodigious complexity of Schubert’s oeuvre in lied and to show that boundaries overlap! Schubert composed the song “Widerspruch” (Contradiction) in two versions in any case – namely the solo version and as an ensemble lied – and we are now in a way adding a third. With “Licht und Liebe” (Light and Love) we have also included an original composition for two voices, as well as dramatic ballads, convivial vocal ensembles and elegiacally meditative solo songs which we have “heard” anew and arranged in various ways.

Vader en zoon Prégardien, adembenemend mooi in hun duetten
Christoph en Julian Prégardien zingen in deze uitvoering van Duitse liederen, de sterren van de hemel. Als altijd voortreffelijk begeleid door pianist Michael Gees. Hij en Prégardien junior bewerkten de liederen van componisten als Schubert en Bhrams voor 2 tenoren en piano. Van Erlkönig, de ballade van Schubert bijvoorbeeld, maakten ze een dialoog tussen vader en zoon. Het is net echt zoals Christoph en Julian het gesprek voeren, zo emotioneel zingen ze het lied. Toch: "Christoph en Julian waken ervoor dat sentiment uitmondt in sentimentaliteit. Maar ze verbergen niet dat ze genieten, senior met zijn gelouterde stem, junior met zijn veelbelovende glans." De Volkskrant december 2014.

De Duitse Christoph Prégardien (1956) begon zijn zangcarrière als koorknaap in de dom van Limburg an der Lahn, zijn geboortestad. Prégardien behoort tot de beste lyrische tenoren van deze tijd. Hij heeft een heldere en precieze stemvoering. Zijn intelligente interpretatie en dictie, gecombineerd met zijn kracht om door te dringen tot de kern van zijn rol, maken van hem een alom gewaardeerd zanger. De tenor treedt wereldwijd op met vooraanstaande orkesten en is ook een graag geziene gast in ons land. Zijn zoon Julian (Frankfurt, 1984) studeerde zang aan de hogeschool voor muziek in Freiburg. Zijn eerste optreden in een opera was in 2007 in München. Julian verschijnt regelmatig op festivals in Europa en is een veelgevraagd concertzanger.

Michael Gees is bekend als begeleider van liederen en werkt intensief samen met Christoph Prégardien. Gees is vooral improvisator. Vaak start hij met een enkel akkoord, om van daaruit de melodie te creëren. Zoals NRC Handelsblad over dit album schreef: "Niet toevallig is de begeleider en arrangeur hier pianist Michael Gees; een van de schaarse ‘vrije’ klassieke musici die het IJzeren Repertoire buigzaam opvatten. Gees gaat met gecomponeerde muziek zo vrij om als de componisten ooit zelf, toen scheppen en uitvoeren nog één waren.”
Ausgehend von Schuberts wohlbekannten Liedern entstand hier ein faszinierendes Projekt. In einer Zeit, in der das geschriebene Wort bzw. der geschriebene Ton praktisch heilig ist, bringen Vater und Sohn das improvisatorische Element zurück in die Musik. Darf man das? Ja, denn hier wird nichts erfunden, sondern nur betont, was der Musik bereits eigen ist, und im Kontext der historischen Musizierpraxis neue Räume öffnet.

„Allem voran hatten wir eine Begegnung mit der Komplexität von Schuberts Liedschaffen im Sinn. Wir wollen zeigen, dass sich Grenzen überschneiden," sagt Julian Prégardien. Und das tun sie hier - ob die Lieder nun von Anfang an als Duett konzipiert wurden, oder das Neuarrangement das Hervortreten eines der Musik innewohnenden „anderen Ichs, einem mehrstimmigen Wesen" erlaubt. Das Ergebnis sind sehr zarte, bedachte, improvisatorische und kommunikative Bearbeitungen für zwei Stimmen von ähnlichem Timbre, in denen sich der Gedanke der einen, universalen menschlichen Stimme mit besonderer Intensität zu manifestieren scheint.


Julian Prégardien

In opera, concert and Lied repertoire, Julian Prégardien enjoys widespread success in equal measure on an international scale.
He has gained particular acclaim in the tenor part of the Evangelist in the passions and oratorios of J. S. Bach. Prégardien recently sang the Evangelist in the Christmas Oratorio under the baton of Peter Schreier in the Munich Philharmonie, as well as the Evangelist in the St Matthew Passion at the Lincoln Center in New York conducted by Philippe Herreweghe, at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Bach Society and at the Munich Herkulessaal with Peter Dijkstra and the Bavarian Radio Choir in a CD/DVD production that has been broadcast several times by different German television stations. Prégardien also recently sang in a television production of the St John Passion in Riga (Latvia) with Concerto Copenhagen conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen. He had previously recorded the St John Passion in 2010 on the French ZIG ZAG label in a production that received excellent international reviews. In early 2015 he will once more record the Evangelist in the St John Passion for Bavarian Radio. 
During the 2014/15 season, Prégardien will also perform Bach cantatas on tour with René Jacobs, and in Barcelona and Paris he will sing the Christmas Oratorio conducted by Christophe Rousset. Under the baton of Andrea Marcon he will likewise perform the Mass in B Minor with Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as a series of Bach cantatas with Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; he will also go on tour singing the St Matthew Passion with Le Concert Lorrain conducted by Christoph Prégardien. 
Further collaborations in the 2014/15 season include Bach cantatas with the Stuttgart International Bach Academy under Hans-Christoph Rademann, Mozart’s Requiem with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the Bavarian Radio Chorus under Peter Dijkstra, and Haydn’s Creation with Christoph Poppen conducting the Cologne Chamber Orchestra.

On the opera stage, Prégardien has recently sung the part of Jaquino in Fidelio with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Paavo Järvi. He also covered the role of Eurimedes in Telemann’s Orpheus at Frankfurt Opera, where he was previously an ensemble member and covered the roles of Tamino in The Magic Flute, Jason in Charpentier’s Medée and The Novice in Billy Budd. At Aix-en-Provence Festival he sang the roles of Nencio in Haydn’s L’infedeltà delusa and Belfiore in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. In June of 2015 he will make a guest appearance as Renaud in Lully’s Armide at the Opéra National de Lorraine (Nancy), with Christophe Rousset conducting and David Hermann as stage director. In the 2013/14 season he sang Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under René Jacobs (at Bremen Musikfest, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and La Monnaie in Brussels), as well as the title role in Rameau’s Zaïs with Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques (Amsterdam, Versailles, Theater an der Wien). Both productions were recorded for CD release.

Julian Prégardien can be heard on the Virgin Classics release of Ezio (Gluck) under Alan Curtis, a production that received an ECHO Classical Award in 2012. He was also among the singers on the roster of Cecilia Bartoli’s second CD release devoted to the works of Agostino Steffani, entitled Stabat Mater (Decca Classics). 
With the title An die Geliebte, Julien Prégardien’s first solo recording was released in early 2014 on the Myrios Classics label, featuring Lied repertoire accompanied by Christoph Schnackertz at the piano – a release that reaped high praise from the critics. In late 2014, Challenge Records International will publish a joint vocal collaboration between father and son, featuring Christoph and Julien Prégardien singing Lied repertoire accompanied by pianist Michael Gees.

Julien Prégardien has given Lieder recitals at Davos Festival, at the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, at Stuttgart Musikfest, at the Rheingau Music Festival, at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, at the Styriarte Festival in Graz, at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Cologne Philharmonie, Stadtcasino Basel, Innsbruck Festival and the Edinburgh and Schwetzingen festivals. In 2013 he performed for the first time at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg, where he is re-invited to perform in 2015. The 2014/15 season will also see a series of joint Lieder recitals with his father scheduled at the Haydn Festival in Brühl, at Stuttgart Musikfest, at Wigmore Hall and at Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

The singer also enjoys presenting distinctive chamber music programmes. At Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth in 2010, he premièred his own arrangement of Schumann’s Liederkreis cycle for string quartet and improvised piano intermezzos with Michael Gees and the Gémaux Quartet. In 2014, in collaboration with the Ricercar Consort, he devised a “Schubertiad” featuring Lied arrangements, instrumental works and texts by Schubert and his contemporaries, arranged for flute, guitar and barytone viol. That project will be released by Myrios Classics as Prégardien’s second solo CD in 2015. 

Born in Frankfurt, Julien Prégardien was trained in the Limburg Cathedral Choir and went on to study voice at Freiburg Musikhochschule. Since the summer semester of 2013 he has been teaching the oratorio class at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich.

Christoph Prégardien
Born 1956 in Limburg, Germany, Christoph Prégardien began his musical education as a choirboy. He then studied singing with Martin Gründler and Karlheinz Jarius in Frankfurt, Carla Castellani in Milan, Alois Treml in Stuttgart and attended Hartmut Höll’s lieder-class.

Widely regarded as among the foremost lyric tenors, Christoph Prégardien frequently collaborates with conductors such as Barenboim, Chailly, Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Herreweghe, Luisi, Metzmacher, Nagano, Sawallisch and Thielemann. His repertory spans a wide range from the great Baroque, Classical and Romantic Oratorios to 20th century works by Britten, Killmayer, Rihm, Stravinsky.

Recognized as an eminent recitalist, Christoph Prégardien is regularly welcomed at the major recital venues of Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin, Cologne, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Zurich, Vienna, Barcelona and Geneva, as well as during his concert tours throughout Italy, Japan and North America.

A longstanding collaboration unites him with his favourite piano partners Michael Gees and Andreas Staier. Soloist of choice for renowned orchestras, he performed with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Gewand-hausorchester Leipzig, London Philharmonia, Staatskapelle Dresden, Philharmonie de Radio France, the Montreal, Boston, St. Louis and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras.

An important part of his repertory has been recorded by labels such as BMG, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, Sony, Erato, Challenge Classics and Teldec. He is represented on more than a hundred and twenty titles, including nearly all of his active repertoire. His recordings of German Romantic Lied repertory have been highly acclaimed by the public and press and have received international awards including the prestigious Orphée d’Or of the Académie du Disque Lyrique-Prix Georg Solti, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Edison Award, Cannes Classical Award
and Diapason d’Or.

As an opera singer, Christoph Prégardien has made stage appearences in major European houses, performing leading roles as Tamino (Zauberflöte), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Almaviva (Il Barbiere di Seviglia), Fenton (Falstaff) and Monteverdi’s Ulisse. In Spring 2005, Christoph Prégardien sang the leading part in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” at the Paris National Opera conducted by Sylvain Cambreling.

An important aspect in the musical life of Christoph Prégardien is his intensive and varied educational work. From 2000 to 2005 Christoph Prégardien was in charge of a vocal class at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich. Since the autumn of 2004, he is a professor at the Musikhochschule Köln. In a new combination of DVD and book, released in the serie “Schott Master Class”, he presents for the first time questions of singing technique and interpretation in word and picture. Film examples accompagny him during his lessons with masterclass students.

Christoph Prégardien now has a long-term cooperation with Challenge Classics. The first production on our label, released in February 2008, was Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin” with pianist Michael Gees. In the fall of 2008 “Schwanengesang” with pianist Andreas Staier followed and “Die schöne Müllerin” was awarded the Midem ‘Record of the Year’ 2009 at MIDEM, the world’s largest music industry trade fair. The duo Christoph Prégardien/Michael Gees also received the MIDEM ‘Vocal Recitals’ Award 2009. Throughout 2008 the recording received critical acclaim from many national and international magazines (Gramophone, Editor’s Choice & „Best of 2008“ among others).


Play album


Song Cycles - Die schöne Müllerin / Schwanengesang / Winterreise
Christoph Prégardien / Andreas Staier / Michael Gees
Father & Son (re-issue)
Christoph & Julian Prégardien
Michael Gees / Bella Adamova
Dichterliebe Op. 48 / Lenau-Lieder und Requiem Op. 90 / Wesendonck Lieder
Christoph Prégardien / Michael Gees
Auf Flügeln des Gesanges - Romantic songs and transcriptions
Cyprien Katsaris | Christoph Prégardien