Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hamari sings 'Erbarme dich'

Sometimes only Bach will do, and an illicit Youtube hunt when I should have been working led me to this spellbinding performance by the Hungarian mezzo-soprano Julia Hamari: 'Erbarme dich' from the St Matthew Passion, conducted by Karl Richter. I can't ascertain whether this was the debut performance that launched her career.

Her biography begins with the words: "Born 21 November 1942, Budapest, Hungary". That was not exactly an ideal time or place to enter this world. She would have been barely 16 months old when the Nazis invaded, and nearly 14 at the time of the 1956 Revolution. I'm not saying that to sing Bach like this you have to have spent your early childhood in a place as horrific as Budapest became while the Germans and Russians killed each other there in 1944, and naturally I know nothing of her life beyond her biography as linked; but one senses a depth to this performance - something trancelike, as the Youtube user comments - that is far indeed from the ordinary. I hope you love it as much as I do.