Thursday, October 02, 2014

Paul Yarbrough & Friends

Wednesday evening I was at this season's 1st Salon at the Rex, featuring violist Paul Yarbrough of the Alexander String Quartet, with mezzo Kindra Scharich & pianist John Parr. Mr. Parr, long associated with the SF Opera, has just started as head of music staff at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Mr. Yarbrough explained he hoped to highlight the similarities of Schumann's writing for the viola & the voice & played the picturesque Märchenbilder, followed by Ms. Scharich in 6 songs from Liederkreis. Ms. Scharich then sang 2 dolorous songs by Dowland, immediately followed by Mr. Yarbrough's performance of a dark, ominous Britten piece based on those songs. The program concluded with all 3 musicians in 2 Brahms songs for alto, viola & piano.

Mr. Yabrough's playing has a nice bite to it, & he communicated the troubled, agitated mood of the Britten piece well. Ms. Scharich sings with ease, & her voice is pleasant, clean & calm. She has good dynamic control & scaled her voice to the small space. I liked the hearty sound she made in Schumman's "Waldesgesprach", & her voice was a good fit for the Dowland. She was soothing in the Brahms, with Mr. Yarbrough playing the low notes on his viola with warmth. Mr. Parr's playing was crisp, though he sometimes seemed disconnected from the other performers.

The program lasted about 75 minutes & had a sociable atmosphere & supportive audience. Mr. Yarbrough even called out to a friend in the audience before launching into the final Märchenbilder. In the Q & A, Mr. Yarbrough brought up relevant biographical background for the music by Britten & Brahms.

§ Salon at the Rex
Paul Yarbrough, viola
Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano
John Parr, piano

R. Schumann (1833-1897)
Märchenbilder, Op. 113
Nicht schnell
Langsam, mit melancholischem Ausdruck

Selections from Liederkreis, Op. 39
In der Fremde

J. Dowland (1563-1626)
If My Complaints Could Passions Move
Flow My Tears

B. Britten (1913-1976)
Lachrymae: Reflections on a song of Dowland, op. 48a

J. Brahms (1810-1856)
Zwei Gesänge, Op. 91
Gestillte Sehnsucht
Geistliches Wiegenlied

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Hotel Rex

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