The Reviews Are In!

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Fred shared his thoughts on Saturday’s performance, and here are some thoughts from those in attendance:

“The first half of the concert was equally affecting. It began with Heggie accompanying DiDonato in a superb account of Reynaldo Hahn’s song cycle “Venezia,” a witty and insinuating collection of bonbons, and continued with a strong-boned but tender rendition of Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor. As an encore, all six performers joined forces for Richard Strauss’ “Morgen!” delivered with rapturous serenity.” — Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle (Full Review)

“As he has done for singers throughout his career, Heggie has made the cycle a glowing showcase for the vocalist. The writing for quartet — filled with insinuating themes and deft harmonies — sets the stage, but never intrudes. And the vocal parts are brilliant: spare and pristine in several settings, luxuriantly ornamented in others. This is a work that sings, ardently, melodically, and dramatically… Bridging the two song cycles was Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor, in a lithe, agile performance by the Alexander String Quartet. The quartet, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, sounded especially lovely in the third movement (marked “Andantino doucement expressif”), with the strings producing richly colored, shimmering sound.” — Georgia Rowe, San Francisco Classical Voice (Full Review)

“After the intermission came the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire, for mezzo-soprano and string quartet. The music was pretty and often wistful. DiDonato enunciated clearly and was clearly moved by the songs. The fifth song, The Gossips, was, for this listener, most striking. The quartet played all together here, and the rhythms were attractive. The encore was Richard Strauss’ “Morgen!” with DiDonato accompanied by not only the string quartet, but by Heggie on piano again. — The Opera Tattler (Full Review)

“DiDonato was so mesmerizing to watch and hear all I really noticed was his ear-to-grin at the conclusion of each song. There’s a reason it’s recently been said she’s at the apex of her career and last night was evidence of it… Then the Alexanders came onstage to perform Debussy’s Sting Quartet in G minor…they managed to uncover new tones within the familiar territory and delivered an impressively thoughtful performance. Cellist Sandy Wilson brought the morose tone of the first movement to the forefront and it colored everything in its wake. Violist Paul Yarbrough picked up the thread from Wilson in the second movement, adding a quizzical element, and the violins of Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz performed the pizzicato ending with exceptional finesse…every movement was performed with its own distinct emotional current, with the players cognizant of the themes occurring in each, yet treating each one as a unique entity.” — John Marcher A Beast in A Jungle (Full Review)

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