Song’n’jokes with Simon Keenlyside (Wigmore Hall, 27 May 2018)
27 May marked the ending of a very busy week, sometimes busy in ways that you really don’t need. On Monday thadieu and I witnessed the aftermath of a road accident that necessited air ambulance. On Sunday afternoon (27 May) someone rammed their car into our fence. Apparently nobody was hurt but the vehicle looked totalled and so is our gate. The cat bolted downstairs where I and the other cat were cooking (she with her back to the hob 😉 ) but he does that often enough that I didn’t overthink it. By the time I figured out what’d happened the Police and the Fire Brigade was already there.
Later on, a 10min downpour graced our area and it was exactly the 10min when I had to go to the station and catch the train that would get me into Central London for this performance. I have a humongous mint green umbrellaI I got the last time I had to sit through a performance in sloshing shoes… The joke this time: Central London was absolutely puddle-free and I must’ve looked like someone who’d jumped into a fountain to cool off their feet.
You can imagine that during the time it took me to get there via tube, my feet slowly pickling, I asked myself many times “is this worth listening to a baritone I barely know?” Well! It turns out it was.
Simon Keenlyside baritone
Malcolm Martineau piano
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht D614
Dass sie hier gewesen D775
Im Abendrot D799
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Tel jour, telle nuit
II. Pavane (solo piano)
Quatre poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire
Avant le cinéma
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Voici que le printemps
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Le secret Op. 23 No. 3
Cinq mélodies ‘de Venise’ Op. 58
Le papillon et la fleur Op. 1 No. 1
Keenlyside is an interesting baritone – I’ve never heard so much (well used) falsetto not coming from a CT! Softly spoken, he has a major ping in his singing voice, which, my seatmate confessed, is better experienced from the back of the venue than from the front rows… from under the overhang it was great. His German diction is excellent in the French good (and his pronunciation is better than most others’). His tone, more than anyone else I’ve seen so far, seemed to match the sound of piano – he’s the Steinway of baritones.
Still the best part is his deadpan humour, which imbued even the darker songs. It was very hot in the hall – because it was very hot in London (hence the thunderstorms) – and he was wearing a suit and used about 324676 handkerchiefs, plus glasses of water. At one point, both he and Martineau took a sip of water break! As I was saying, it was very hot and even the chatty seatmate was feeling sorry for him having to wear a suit, but as time went on the besuited attitude softened into the Frenchness of the set and he was cracking jokes left and right.
This was one of the most unexpectedly light hearted shows I’d been to, especially in spite of the pickled feet disaster. I like his style and the only reason I had not posted this before is because that heat was heralding things to come. Mid June was a bit cooler but OMG, July = oven. It’s still 27C here and it’s been that hot for weeks. Summer of 2018 = hottest English Summer since 1976 (probably hotter than that one by now). So if you’re wondering where all the other Summer 2018 posts are – well, I’ll get to them sooner or later.