Dawn Upshaw sings Schubert

On April 24th (and 26th) Dawn Upshaw sang in her final concert of the season as an Artistic Partner with the SPCO. This was the first concert I attended with a Club 2030 purchased seat, which placed me in seat 213 and row S. The view from this location was very nice, I could see the wind section for a change.

The concert started with Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella which is a beautiful piece, especially the second movement-Serenata. This piece had the principal strings (excluding bass), Steven Copes-1st violin, Dale Barltrop-2nd violin, Sabina Thatcher-viola, and Ronald Thomas-cello, sitting in string quartet formation and the rest of their sections sitting behind them.

It was a bit odd to start the concert program with such a long piece (23 minutes) as often they start with a shorter piece to make it easier to seat late people between pieces, rather than between movements. However, that was probably a nod to Dawn Upshaw’s performance in the later two pieces before intermission.

As I mentioned, the Serenata is particularly nice, it features a nice opening oboe solo which was wonderfully played by Kathryn Greenbank. This movement is one of my favorite all time and I was happy to hear it live again. I have this recording of it and I recommend it highly.

After the Suite was finished, I was a bit surprised that conductor Douglas Boyd, an oboist himself, shook hands with the string quartet members after the piece, but didn’t acknowledge Kathryn Greenbank until after he returned to the stage.

The next two pieces were songs by Stravinsky-Two Poems of Constantin Bal’mont and Three Japanese Lyrics with Dawn Upshaw singing soprano. Both were short, 3 minutes, I didn’t enjoy them all that much, not awful, just not my cup of tea.  In an interesting change of pace, the SPCO used supertitles and two TVs on the side of the stage (for those sitting close) to provide translations of the text.  They had done supertitles for years, then at one point switched to paper inserts to the program book.

This was the first concert I have heard for the give, not sure if they started a week earlier with the neighborhood series, but happy they didn’t do it at the April 5th concert (which in past years they would have).  This year’s theme is about people coming to the SPCO and that they want to support the organization.  As in the past they have a match from the Bush Foundation for new and increased giving.  The increased giving might be why they are giving a book on the SPCO for $150, higher than last year’s DVD (with TPT) about their tour to Europe which went to those who gave $100.

After intermission, we heard a world premiere of Schubert songs (She Was Here) arranged by Golijov. I am not really familiar with these songs, not sure I have heard them before. I really liked them, the music was very nice and we were able to see Golijov take a bow for his work as he was in attendance. In fact he was sitting 2 rows in front of me.

Last year the SPCO played a piece by Golijov, The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind for Klezmer Clarinet and String Quartet (arranged for klezmer clarinet and string orchestra) which has a very different sound (Klezmer), but also very enjoyable. I recommend this recording which I own. Hopefully we will hear more from this composer in the future.

The concert ended with Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, London. As usual, this was another great performance. If you like Haydn, you should look at subscribing to the SPCO, you will see his symphonies played with them much more often than with the Minnesota Orchestra.

For those of you who are less familiar with classical music, where I used to be until I started going all the time. Haydn really did have 104 symphonies, much more than the 9 symphonies of Beethoven, and rightfully so is called the father of symphonies.

-Josh

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