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Simon Keenlyside baritone / Julius Drake piano
Wigmore Hall, 25 January 2007


Brahms - Auf dem Kirchhofe Op. 105 No. 4; Meerfahrt Op. 96 No. 4; Nachtwandler Op. 86 No. 3; Wir wandelten Op.96 No. 2; Es schauen die Blumen Op. 96 No. 3; Ständchen Op. 106 No. 1 Rimsky-Korsakov - Eastern Song: Enslaved by the rose the nightingale Op. 2 No. 2
Rachmaninov: - Christ is risen Op. 26 No. 6; She is as Lovely as the Noon Op. 14 No. 9; The Water lily Op. 8 No. 1; A Dream Op. 38 No. 5
Strauss - Ständchen Op. 17 No. 2; All mein Gedanken Op. 21 No. 1; Das Rosenband Op. 36 No. 1; Hochzeitlich Lied Op. 37 No. 6; Cäcilie Op. 27 No. 2
Poulenc - Le travail du peintre; Montparnasse ; Carte postale; Avant le cinema; 1904
Debussy: - Beau soir; Voici que le printemps; MandolineRavel - Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
Schubert (Encores) Das Wandern is des Mullers Lust; Die Sterne; Rastlose Liebe; L'incanto degli occhi

Simon Keenlyside drew to Wigmore Hall for his mixed recital not only a strong turnout of regular patrons, but also a good sprinkling of faces more familiar at the Royal Opera House, and just about every young baritone studying in London who could lay his hands on a ticket. He is very much a singer's singer, combining phenomenal technique with a very down to earth presentation.


In their Brahms group the mood metamorphosed from deeply sombre to positively cheerful. In Rimsky-Korsakov's The nightingale and the rose, the piano paints a backdrop of Eastern mysticism. Rachmaninov was represented with the rather stern declaration that Christ is risen contrasting well with the complete change in voice colour for Water lily, and the almost ethereal Dream . Some of Richard Strauss' most tender love songs brought the first half to an exciting end with a resounding high note at the end of Cacilie.


The second part of the programme was devoted to the works of French composers. Poulenc's musical portraits of the painters described in Paul Eluard's poems conjured up clear visions of each artist's style. Both performers captured the exact measure of nebulous but zany humour of his capricious Apollinaire settings. Debussy's sensuous melodies leavened the mix, before the concert came to an official close with Ravel and Don Quichotte's genteelly inebriated drinking song.


Simon Keenlyside sailed through it all, there were just a few moments when he pushed the volume and sounded close to the edge, but his quiet passages were magical.  Julius Drake was on superb form.


Happily the event was broadcast on Radio 3 and can be accessed for the next few days at Listen Again.


Serena Fenwick

Picture credit Seth Parker (Simon Keenlyside)