Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Reviewing the San Francisco Symphony. Lindberg, Seht die Sonne; Debussy songs; Beethoven, Seventh Symphony.
Some thoughts that didn't make it into the review:
- I wish they'd programmed Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto to close, not the Beethoven. It would be fun to see Carey Bell break a sweat - and Oramo would have conducted it better.
- Right, I hated the Beethoven. And it wasn't just the speed: it was the rigidity and lack of give between and within measures and phrases.
- Anu Komsi really does have a lovely voice. She also has a habit of singing soft high notes with the tiniest thread of sound possible. I was very impressed the first couple of times she did this. Around the fourth or fifth time, realized that it's a trick, like those floated pianissimos Caballe could pull out of her hat. Notes sung in that fashion become disconnected from the line of the music.
- Jeff Dunn points out that Einojuhanni Rautavaara has sold more records than the composers I listed put together. I didn't list Rautavaara because I've heard only two works by him, one a part song that I liked very much - Volti sang it on one of their concerts - the other the dreadful Manhattan Trilogy the Symphony played with Ashkenazy conducting.
- The orchestra looked somewhere from studiously neutral to grim during the concert. My companion thought the Lindberg sounded underrehearsed, which could have caused the orchestra to look displeased.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
San Francisco Opera's ballpark simulcast of Lucia di Lammermoor is tonight. The production, and especially the singing, and especially Natalie Dessay, got great reviews. There's Joshua Kosman in the Chron, and, unusually, columnist Jon Carroll, with a particularly funny take on the piece.
Tickets are still available: you register and print out your tickets at the Opera web site.
I won't be there. I was supposed to see the Symphony, which is performing the Magnus Lindberg commission, Seht die Sonne, yesterday. I should have checked the schedule, because the performance was a rare Thursday matinee, which I discovered around 5 p.m., long after the concert was over. I'll be at the Symphony tonight, and will catch Lucia another time, or not at all.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
On the Concord Ensemble's Berkeley Festival program last week was a number familiar to me, Juan Arañés’s Chacona, "A la vida, vidita bona." You might know this piece too, if you're a Hesperion XXI fan (and who isn't?), because it's the first track on the wonderful Villancicos y danzas criollas, which Alex Ross once called "Alia Vox's unofficial dance-party CD."
The Concord Ensemble and Hesperion both perform this piece, the catchiest music ever written, with similar verve and joy. But what a difference in arrangements: the Concord Ensemble performed it a capella. On the Hesperion CD, there's a veritable orchestra, including percussion, viols, a plucked instrument (Baroque guitar?), and sackbutts.
I've certained wondered about the historical information supporting Hesperion's instrumental forces, but the CD's liner notes are useless on this count. Davitt Maroney's program notes for the amazing Striggio mass performed at the Berkeley Festival indicate that in its time, lavish forces would have backed the singers, rendering his choice of sackbutts, cornetts, and pairs of portative organs and harpsichords conservative. But does the same apply to a secular number in a New World style?
Sunday, June 08, 2008
- Going to five performances in six days is a mistake, at least if you also have to go to work. That would be Das Rheingold, the SF Symphony program, and three concerts at the Berkeley early music fest ("Berkeley Festival and Exhibition" - why tell you the subject of the festival, after all?).
- Nonetheless, I'm sorry I couldn't have attended all of the festival concerts, and I'm especially sorry to have missed the Concord Ensemble/Piffaro concert, though I did catch the Concord Ensemble's fabulous program of Spanish music.
- It's a good idea to figure out the questions you need answered to finish your review on a day you can expect Cal Performances' press office to be open.