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)
Schwanengesang D957
Kriegers Ahnung
Der Atlas
Am Meer
Der Doppelgänger
An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht D614
Dass sie hier gewesen D775

Schwanengesang D957
Die Stadt
Im Abendrot D799

Schwanengesang D957
Das Fischermädchen


Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Tel jour, telle nuit

Suite française
II. Pavane (solo piano)


Quatre poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire
Carte postale
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
En sourdine

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.

About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on July 24, 2018, in live performances, wigmore hall and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. We’ll have them here in December (program as yet TBA) but hopefully it’ll be more like 27F then, yeesh! Glad it was worth the slosh and then the baking. And thanks for the tip about distance, which means I can keep my usual rear balcony haunt.

  2. what i remember most from him in Geneva was his ease in “playing” with the music and the scene. the encounter of DonG and Zerlina was done almost entirely in piano and pianissimo, with legs and arms skittishingly swinging in tune with the music, giving an image of a superbly skillful DonG who knows how to best seduce a pray, and shockingly i must admit it was highly effective, to my own admission.. I would have not followed into the bush like with goatie Polinesso, but i can really see why Zerlina would in this case.
    For someone as high profile as he is, what strikes me then, was how he worked the scene with his voice and vocalization, not so much belting it out to show i-am-big-name-with-a-glorious-voice-and-will-launch-into-instant-repeat-on-demand..

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