Charles Dutoit

L'Heure espagnole at SFS

Charles-Dutoit-4x6* Notes *
Charles Dutoit (pictured left) conducted San Francisco Symphony in its first performance of Ravel's L'Heure espagnole last night. The orchestra sounded elegant and the cast had a wonderful sense of comic timing in this concert version of the piece.

Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (Concepcion) has a vivid, smoky voice. She was able to convey hysteria in the edges of her voice that is suited to the role. Baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra sounded healthy and strong as Ramiro. One got the sense he enjoyed singing with the other principals and with the orchestra. Tenor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt was a bright-toned Torquemada, while tenor John Mark Ainsley's Gonzalve was light and funny. Likewise, baritone David Wilson-Johnson was a diverting, pompous Don Iñigo Gomez. The dry wit of this opera came through.

The first half of the program began with Ravel's Alborado del gracioso. The short piece sparkled and shimmered. The bassoon sounded particularly beautiful. Pianist Javier Perianes was the soloist in Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Falla that followed. He often carefully watched Dutoit and did not play in an overly flamboyant manner. The piece often demands a strong percussive quality of the soloist and Perianes played these passages well.

* Tattling *
There was much giggling during L'Heure espagnole and even a few loud guffaws.

Dutoit conducts Fauré's Requiem

Charles-Dutoit-4x6* Notes * 
At the moment, Charles Dutoit (pictured left) is conducting San Francisco Symphony in performances of Poulenc, Stravinsky, and Fauré. Poulenc's Gloria began the concert on Thursday. The orchestra sounded bright and the chorus was cohesive. The "Laudamus te" was particularly jaunty. The soloist, soprano Susanna Phillips, sounded gorgeous. The "Domine Deus" was clear and haunting.

The Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms, took a bit to set up, as the piece does not have high strings and also requires two pianos. The flute, oboe, and bassoon had a lovely moment.

After intermission we heard Fauré's Requiem. The soloists were both strong. Bass-baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann has a rich, powerful voice. Susanna Phillips sounded rather sublime as well. The dynamics of the piece were evident, and the chorus' pianissimo was impressive.

* Tattling * 
There was only a brief exchange around me by one couple at one point during the last piece.

Dutoit conducts CSO

CSO * Notes * 
On Tuesday night Charles Dutoit conducted Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a program of Berlioz, Penderecki, and Elgar. The concert began with Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture. The brass was clear, and the piece was played with much charm. For some reason, I experienced the Concerto grosso for Three Cellos and Orchestra from Penderecki that followed as an unrelenting stomachache. The most of the phrases seemed rather sinister to me, especially those shared by the low strings. The soloists, John Sharp, Kenneth Olsen, and Katinka Kleijn, played well. The principal horn sounded mellow and clear. After the intermission came Elgar's Enigma Variations. The orchestra had a glittering, tight-knit sound. The clarinet and viola soli were particularly beautiful. The cello melody in XII was lucid and lovely.

* Tattling * 
The audience was silent for first half of the program. At least 4 people on the orchestra were either concentrating with their eyes closed during Penderecki, or were asleep. There was light whispering during Elgar. The person in A 102 of the Center Terrace rather mysteriously told his companion in A 104 "second tier, first medallion" near the end of Elgar.