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This report is taken from PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January - February 2018.

Schumann at Cratfield
Journal Entry, August 1994
R.F. Langley
On our way to another Sunday concert at Cratfield, to hear Schumann songs mainly. After a few moments you can see it is going to be great. The impression is confirmed, all the way. Britta Schwarz. Here comes the difficulty of describing singing, faces, manner… all gone so fast when it is over. Tall, thirty years old, brown straight soft hair to her waist, caught by a glinting comb behind her head. Peacock green dress to her ankles, lace at wrists and hem, high heels, a single string of pearls. Yes. So much. One black fingernail, Ailsa tells me, as if shut in a door. Indeed. Deep eye sockets, so the eyes are big but shadowed. Very pure profile… slightly domed forehead, firm eyebrows, pointed nose and chin, long neck. Doesn’t mouth anything… Mouth movement decorous. Grimace of anguish actually convincing. Hands raised to eye level and spread, or occasionally a finger pointed. Stands very still between songs, before songs… head down sometimes, swallowing carefully. Voice like a man’s at the bottom, absolutely clear, of astounding clarity and power without any harshness at all, at full volume, powering, soaring, never piercing, always full and ringing. She makes people cry. When she looks like beginning, the clapping stops dead, with a hard edge, and the silence is thrilling. She stands quietly smiling after the joyful ones, head tilted up somewhat. It’s her husband watching her from the chancel, fair-haired, bearded. She is rather dark skinned, olive complexion, nails look pale on her fingers. Valid. The artifice is valid from ...


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