Monday, March 26, 2007

Blomstedt leads Mendelssohn's Elijah

Last Friday night I was at Davies Hall to hear Blomstedt lead the SF Symphony & Chorus in a beautiful & absorbing performance of Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah. Blomstedt maintained a dramatic flow over this huge 140 minute piece & made it as good as a night at the opera.

It's a big cast. There was a large chorus that spilled out of the terrace onto 2 additional rows on stage, plus 2 quartets of singers representing angelic voices, plus 4 principal soloists, plus a boy soprano in a small but pivotal role.

The slightly reduced orchestra put the balance in favor of the voices, as it should be. The most dependable performance of the evening was from baritone Alan Opie. He has a thick, somewhat Wagnerian voice. I quickly learned to be confident of hearing expressive & sustained singing every time he stood up. The tenor Christoph Genz was also remarkable. He had a wonderfully clear, bright sound that must be fantastic for Mozart.

I felt swept along by Blomstedt's even pacing. The performance never dragged, yet every number was given proper weight, & often one number simply flowed into the next one. The audience expressed their involvement by their silences between numbers.

During the ovations at the evening's end, Blomstedt demonstrated extra gratitude to the players by wading into the orchestra to acknowledge solo work by the principal by cellist (Peter Wyrick?) & oboist Bill Bennett.

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