Christian Immler

Bass-Baritone

 

Biography

With a voice of “warm, noble timbre and great flexibility” (Forum Opéra), German bass-baritone Christian Immler is a multifaceted artist whose career ranges widely across the worlds of lieder, oratorio and opera, “a technically, musically and stylistically consummate interpreter, with a strikingly masculine, truly grounded bass capable of tenoral splendour, exemplary diction and emotional urgency coupled with a deep intellectual textual understanding.” (Klassik Heute) His artistry is strongly centred in the baroque and early Classical repertoire, but with a versatility that extends through the 19th century recital and orchestral tradition and into contemporary works.
Recent highlights have included Rocco in Beethoven’s Leonore with René Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockorchester, widely acclaimed recordings of the St Matthew and St John Passions (as Jesus) with Bach Collegium Japan for BIS Records, the cantatas of Bach, Werner and Albrechtsberger at Müpa Budapest, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Bach’s Magnificat with Les Violons du Roy in Canada and Christmas Oratorio with the Orchester der Klangverwaltung, recital performances of Schubert’s Winterreise and Beethoven’s An die ferne geliebte, and the role of the Hermit in Der Freischütz at the Opéra de Rouen and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées with Laurence Equilbey. Upcoming highlights include Mahler’s Symphony No.8 with the Minnesota Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Bach Collegium Japan, Haydn’s Stabat Mater and Salve Regina with the Kammerorchester Basel, Mozart’s C minor Mass with Ensemble Pygmalion, Telemann’s Orpheus with the B’Rock Orchestra, the Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos in Limoges, and Don Fernando in Fidelio at the Opéra Comique in Paris.
Christian Immler performs at prestigious venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, the Sydney Opera House, the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence and Lucerne Festivals and the BBC Proms. He maintains strong links with conductors such as Masaaki Suzuki (Bach Collegium Japan), Rene Jacobs, Raphaël Pichon, Marc Minkowski, Laurence Equilbey and Jordi Savall, and has collaborated widely with Christophe Rousset, Philippe Herreweghe, Ivor Bolton, Osmo Vänskä, Daniel Harding, Kent Nagano, James Conlon, Andrew Parrott, Ottavio Dantone, Riccardo Chailly, Giovanni Antonini, Thomas Hengelbrock, William Christie and Leonardo García Alarcón. His broad orchestral repertoire encompasses Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and their contemporaries, though Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Missa solemnis, oratorios and masses of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Rossini, the Requiems of Dvorak, Duruflé, Fauré, Brahms and Verdi, to Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony, Kálmán, Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, Korngold and Krenek.
His operatic experience has ranged from Monteverdi’s Seneca and Charpentier’s Achis in David & Jonathas conducted by William Christie, and Jupiter in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux with Raphaël Pichon at the Opéra Comique, through to and Pharnaces in Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and Docteur Itard/Vicaire in the world premiere of Fénelon’s JJR (directed by Robert Carsen) and Dodo/Frog Footman/Mock Turtle in Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. He has sung Purcell’s Aeneas, Handel’s Saul and Argante (Rinaldo), the Commendatore and Masetto in Don Giovanni with René Jacobs, Speaker in Die Zauberflöte with Christophe Rousset at Dijon Opera and with Raphaël Pichon at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (directed by Simon McBurney), Claudio in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, Schubert’s Sakontala, and the Gamekeeper in Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen.

A keen recitalist, Christian has been performed at the Wigmore Hall in London, the Frick Collection in New York, the Paris Philharmonie, the Salzburg Mozarteum, and the Tonhalle Zurich. He enjoys a long-time partnership with pianist Helmut Deutsch, with whom he released his album entitled ‘Modern Times’ which was awarded both the ‘Diamant d’Opéra’ and the prestigious ‘Diapason Découverte’. Their latest project, devoted exclusively to the newly discovered lieder of Hans Gál and displaying Christian’s particular interest in 20th Century ʻEmigré Composersʼ will be released imminently. He collaborates regularly with Christoph Berner, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Danny Driver and alongside his impeccable Lied pedigree retains a soft spot for Leonard Bernstein and Cole Porter.
Following his early training as a boy alto soloist in the Tölzer Knabenchor, Christian Immler studied with Rudolf Piernay at the Guildhall School of Music in London. Much in demand for worldwide masterclasses, Christian is Professor of Voice at the Kalaidos Fachhochschule in Zurich, has taught the Lied and Oratorio class at the International Summer Academy of the Mozarteum Salzburg on several occasions and has served on several jury panels, including at the International Nadia et Lili Boulanger Competition in Paris, from which his own victory launched his career. His more than 50 recordings have been awarded prizes such as a 2016 Grammy Nomination (Steffani’s Niobe), the Echo Klassik, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Gramophone Award, and France Musiques’ Enregistrement de l’année. His most recent release is the title role in Graupner’s Antiochus und Stratonica with the Boston Early Music Festival on CPO Records.

Reviews

“Dominating the whole work, Christian Immler is Saul, whom he lives with singular intensity. Everything is there for this perilous role, where the king, imbued with his power, jealous, angry, calculating, dark in a murderous madness: voice sound in all registers, well stamped, projected at will. His dramatic commitment is exemplary.”

Original text:

“Dominant tout l’ouvrage, Christian Immler est Saül, qu’il vit avec une intensité singulière. Tout est là pour ce rôle périlleux, où le roi, imbu de son pouvoir, jaloux, rageur, calculateur, sombre dans une folie meurtrière : voix sonore dans tous les registres, bien timbrée, projetée à souhait. Son engagement dramatique est exemplaire. Qu’attend un producteur pour le mettre en scène?”

Albert Dacheux

Classiquenews, July 2019

“Of the soloists, the highlight was Christian Immler, with noble timbre, even, frank delivery, warm phrasing, who presented a peerless Jesus.”

Arturo Reverter

La Razon, Feb 2018

“Christian Immler fashions his Elijah based on humanity … A magnificent role portrait … One that shows a man and not a marble statue. One that is conveyed through song, not, as so often, through shouting. One, finally, that perfectly fits into the musical dramaturgy of Masaaki Suzuki.”

Original text:

“Christian Immler legt seinen Elias mit den Tönen Mendelssohns von der Menschlichkeit her an … Ein grandioses Rollenporträt …Eines, das einen Menschen zeigt und keine Marmorstatue. Eines, das aus Gesang gezeugt ist, nicht, wie so oft, aus Gebrüll. Eines schließlich, dass sich perfekt einfügt in die musikalische Dramaturgie Masaaki Suzukis.”

Peter Korfmacher

Leipziger Volkszeitung, June 2018

“Christian Immler was an appropriately omniscient mystic who also boomed the voice of Samiel over spectral amplification in the bullet-forging scene. “Er oder du” could have been Verdi’s Grand Inquisiteur. Bringing hermetic wisdom to determine Max’s fate, “Wer legt auf ihn so strengen Bann?” had dramatic gravitas with a resonant low B-flat. The Sarastro-like “Leicht kann des Frommen Herz” monologue had a Talvela-ish low A-natural and the fortissimo “Wer höb’ den ersten Stein wohl auf?” was redolent of Jim Bakker televangelist hectoring.”

Jonathan Sutherland

Operawire, May 2019

Press Reviews

… an excellent performance of Handel’s early oratorio “La Resurrezione”: Karina Gauvin as the Angel and Christian Immler (a devilish Plutone in Campra’s underworld) as Lucifer.

The New York Times, James. R. Oestreich, June 2017

 

… Finally, baritone Christian Immler deserves special mention, with a clear and warm tone, a voice of great malleability, reminiscent of the greatest.

Original text:

… On décernera enfin une mention spéciale au baryton Christian Immler, au timbre frais et chaleureux et à la voix d’une grande ductilité, qui rappelle les plus grands.

 Forum Opéra, Julien Marion, 2014

 

…Christian Immler est un orateur impressionnant, animé, juste, puissant.

Forumopera, Yvan Beuvard, March 2017

 

Matching him was the bass Christian Immler (who I last saw in March as Hermit/Voice of Samiel in the Insula Der Freischütz in Aix), superbly strong in the ‘Tuba mirum’

Seenandheard, Colin Clarke, June 2019

 

The baritone Christian Immler shows himself in this varied programme to be a technically, musically and stylistically consummate interpreter. In the familiar Schubert and Brahms cycles, he has no need to hide behind any previous great artist. His voice is strikingly masculine, bass-grounded yet capable of tenoral splendour, the diction is exemplary, one can indeed understand every word. Emotional urgency is coupled with a deep intellectual understanding of the text.

Original text:

Der Bariton Christian Immler zeigt sich in diesem vielseitigen Programm als ein in technischer, musikalischer und stilistischer Hinsicht mit allen Wassern gewaschener Interpret. In den bekannten Zyklen von Schubert und Brahms braucht er sich hinter den bedeutendsten Künstlern der Vergangenheit nicht zu verstecken. Die Stimme ist männlich markant, bassig geerdet und zu tenoralem Glanz fähig, die Diktion ist mustergültig, man versteht tatsächlich jedes Wort. Emotionale Dringlichkeit verbindet sich mit intellektueller Durchdringung der Textinhalte.

Klassik heute, Ekkehard Pluta, April 2019

 

Immler’s singing could easily hold its own in strict Belcanto terms. The artist is so convincing, above all through the sculpted text-relatedness of his interpretations, that one would be inclined to rank him with the likes of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Dietrich Henschel or Christian Gerhaher. Immler’s stylistic breadth is impressive, his theatrical temperament inspiring, and all supported by the pianistic sovereignty of Helmut Deutsch.

This recital should propel Christian Immler – onetime alto in the Tölzer Knabenchor, sublime in the St John Passion conducted by Harnoncourt in 1985 – to the first ranks of his generation’s lieder singers… His superlative diction and the remarkable malleability of his line unite to offer an expressive, precise and unique contour to each song… In the Grosz and Eisler Ballads, he releases even more of his declamatory rhetoric and displays the full extent of his theatrical temperament…by all accounts, Helmut Deutsch also has a heck of a good time!

Fono Forum, Christoph Zimmermann, January 2012

 

Immler offers sensitive and varied readings with deep feeling for the texts… His Bach-training is a good base for a Liedersinger. Also there is no lack of strength and capacity to negotiate even the most dramatic songs with admirable command. This issue becomes one of the best Lieder discs that have come my way in recent times. I praised Gerald Finley’s recent disc on Hyperion and here he has a worthy competitor. Die Loreley, which Finley doesn’t sing, gets a ravishing reading of a truly ravishing song.

Musicweb International, Göran Forsling, February 2016

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