* Notes *
Yesterday afternoon San Francisco Performances presented baritone Eugene Brancoveanu in a recital of Georgy Sviridov, Maurice Ravel, Henri Duparc, Franz Schubert, and Carl Loewe. The performance began with Sviridov's Russia cast adrift (1987), songs set to 12 episodic poems by Sergey Yesenin. Brancoveanu conveyed the range of emotions in the music and text with warmth. He communicated tenderness, despair, and triumph with great clarity. His accompanist, John Parr, played the piano fluidly, and with an understated grace. There were only a few moments where they might not have been exactly together, but the 34 minutes of Sviridov were arresting. This was followed by Ravel's Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, which Brancoveanu also sang at his Salon at the Rex two years ago. He dedicated the "Chanson romanesque" to his wife, who was in attendance. The "Chanson épique" was grave and measured, and the "Chanson à boire" was humorous.
After the intermission we heard four songs from Duparc, and Phidylé was particularly beautiful. Then came three songs from Schubert and three from Loewe. Brancoveanu's diction is extraordinarily clear, imparting the sensation that one can actually understand German. In most of these songs Brancoveanu sang as more than one character, using his falsetto more than once, to mostly good effect. Of especial interest here were the two settings of Goethe's Der Erlkönig, sung one after another. The encore was Strauss' Zueignung ("Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele").* Tattling *
San Francisco Performances was kind enough to provide me a press ticket to this event, and as a result I sat behind the Chronicle reviewer, who pointed out an error in program notes, which lists Sir Edward Elgar as being the composer of Russia Cast Adrift. The late seating just after this work was performed, and a woman in leopard print climbed over said reviewer before deciding she ought to sit with her friends in the center of Row H instead, and duly climbed over him again. It may have been her mobile phone that rang twice in the middle of Schubert's "Die Stadt."