* Notes *
The American Bach Soloists performed secular works from Bach and Telemann last Saturday in San Francisco. The evening began with the "Wedding Cantata," with soprano Yulia Van Doren as the soloist. Her voice as a darkness to it, yet maintains a clarity of tone. She was pleasant to hear, though she did not always cut through the orchestration, and her German was not particularly comprehensible. The ensemble was clean, if not a bit dry, with Jeffrey Thomas at the helm as usual. The basso continuo (cello, harpsichord, and bass) was exceedingly together and pristine. The Telemann that followed, the Concerto in G Minor for Recorder, was fleetly lucid. Cantata oder Trauer-Music eines kunsterfahrenen Cararienvogels was sung with deadpan seriousness by baritone Joshua Copeland, whose diction was fine, and whose voice was robust and warm. The unison of the orchestra was especially pleasing during the fifth aria.
After the intermission we heard the fourth Brandenburg Concerto, a piece I must have played on the modern viola, for the tuning of this historically informed performance was unsettling to me. The final piece was the charming Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht ("Coffee Cantata"). Thomas did well with the tenor part of the Erzähler, though the musicians may have not been perfectly together in the last trio. Van Doren (Lieschen) had lovely phrasing, but her vowel quality was noticeable compared to both Thomas and Copeland (Schlendrian). That said, the three singers played well off each other, and the performance was even fun.
* Tattling *
The woman in Row P 201 of the balcony was one of the most disruptive audience members encountered in recent memory. Not only were we regaled with tales of her 1.5 month long summer romance with a 25-year-old named Brian (apparently too immature) and adventures in purchasing gas (apparently too expensive), we learned she applied to a position at ABS and was there as a guest.
Naturally, her mobile phone rang during "Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten." She also talked during most of the first piece, until a glare reduced this to whispering. At intermission she stepped over me twice, and she and her companion (a coworker) moved to the side balcony to be more comfortable. The woman used her phone during the music, though did not speak into it, at least. At one point she bounded up, and stamped out of the hall, and after a few minutes she returned to stamp back to her seat.