Eschenbach conducts Zemlinsky
April 29, 2010
* Notes *
San Francisco Symphony and Christoph Eschenbach just opened a run of 3 performances of Schumann's 4th and Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony. The Schumann had a lightness in the beginning, but the woodwinds sounded somewhat muddy in their entrance of the Romanze. The brass also were a bit rough, but improved and sounded rich at the end. Overall the piece was played rather loudly. The best moments were the oboe, violin, and cello solos.
Alarmingly, Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony was played at an even greater volume than the Schumann. The playing was not subtle in the least. The work is lush, and the soloists, soprano Christine Schäfer and bass-baritone James Johnson both seemed up to the task. Schäfer has a sweet, bird-like sound, with only a little shrillness at the top. She sang the melancholy "Sprich zu mir Geliebter" with grace. Johnson began with a bit of huskiness, and perhaps a lack of warmth, but his volume was strong and his voice is appealing.
* Tattling *
The man next to me in H 9 was much too tall for the seat, and he bumped my left arm and side repeatedly. His companion spoke aloud on two occasions. The Zemlinsky was very challenging for the audience, and many of the rather elderly patrons left as the singers were performing.