Monday, May 12, 2008
SPCO at Carnegie Hall
Last night, I attended the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's sell-out concert in the Zankel Hall at Carnegie. The program began with Dvorak's Serenade in D Minor for Winds with cello and bass, which proved to be a robust and muscular opening to the evening. Then came Dawn Upshaw's performance of 5 short but exquisite vocal pieces, by Stravinsky (Two Poems of Konstantin Bal'mont) and Ravel (Three Japanese Lyrics). Then more Ravel songs, in the form of "Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé", with ensemble accompaniments that managed to be both lush and spare. This was my favorite moment of the concert, and I thought that Dawn Upshaw's voice really sounded much warmer and more live than a previous performance of this work I had heard at the Ordway. This may have had something to do with the extremely clear and focused sound of the Zankel Hall, which is a relatively recent space, opened in 2003. Then followed the ambitiously arranged (by Osvaldo Golijov) Schubert song cycle "She Was Here", which required very skillful handling on the part of the full orchestra and the conductor, Dougie Boyd, who did a masterly job. The concert ended with the orchestra playing Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite, in which musical play combines with pastiche to create much animation and many amusing moments.