Sunday, June 07, 2015

Ravel and Falla at the San Francisco Symphony

I went to the San Francisco Symphony last night to hear:

Charles Dutoit conductor

Ravel Alborado del gracioso 

Falla Nights in the Gardens of Spain
       Javier Perianes piano

Ravel L’Heure espagnole

  • Isabel Leonard mezzo-soprano (Concepción)
  • Jean-Paul Fouchécourt tenor (Torquemada)
  • John Mark Ainsley tenor (Gonzalve, a student poet)
  • Jean-Luc Ballestra baritone (Ramiro)
  • David Wilson-Johnson baritone (Don Iñigo Gomez)
Dutoit is a Swiss gentleman who specializes in French Music, in this case Maurice Ravel.  The orchestra was large, including 7 percussionists for both Ravel pieces, but not huge.  This concert is for those who love the true and the faux Spanish in classical music.  Ravel liked very much to aim for non-French ethnicity, and not always in pieces with orchestra.  It seems to work pretty well in these pieces.

Sandwiched in the middle is the real Spanish piece by Manuel de Falla.  It had an impressionist sound very much like the pieces that surrounded it.  I've never seen it played before and was somewhat confused by the arrangement of players that put a grand piano in front as though it were a piano concerto, and then presented a piece where the piano is only marginally an individual voice.  Most of the time you couldn't hear him.  Then the pianist came out and played an encore.  I don't know what it was.  The encore wasn't very loud either.

I came for L’Heure espagnole which I had only heard before in piano accompaniment.  It was a lovely piece, beautifully played and sung, but with a few odd features.  Such a big, completely exposed orchestra dominated the singers more than I prefer.  

There were surtitles.  I think perhaps an unstaged opera, well almost unstaged, should not have this, particularly when the words we are seeing tell us this is a slapstick comedy with lots of sight gags and nonsense.  I suppose the orchestra is too large to attempt more serious staging.

The singers all seemed well suited to the French music.  I might like to experience this on a real stage, but it would be necessary to pair it with another opera, perhaps L'enfant et les sortilèges.  It could even use these same singers.

1 comment:

mamascarlatti said...

I think you might like this DVD - IMO beautiful production of L'heure and L'enfant: