From the seats - The Schumanns
After attending At Home With The Schumanns I can say without a doubt that I've never enjoyed vocal music (at least solo) more than I did last night. You can quote me on that. Perhaps I hadn't heard enough Schumann before. Maybe the “at home” staging made the music/vocalists more accessible or welcoming. There's a chance Roxana Constantinescu may have had something to do with it. Regardless, the July 6 concert was a fantastic experience from start to finish, both in concept and content, and left me looking forward to next year's program....Dance Party with Debussy perhaps?
[caption id="attachment_853" align="alignright" width="195" caption="Roxana Constantinescu impressed this reviewer"][/caption]
For those who didn't attend (but should next year!), “at home” referred to the staging of the concert, which involved elaborate furniture and dress, a program of all Schumann works, and the performers interacting as if they we're performing for each other in a parlor or living room. Instead of leaving and entering for each piece, the performers stayed seated around the stage, enjoying the evening with the rest of the audience. Like the SFYCA/Bobby McFerrin concert the night before, the walls between performer and audience were once again removed, resulting in more than a few oohs, ash, and chuckles that might normally be stifled. It was wonderful to see the musicians enjoy each other's performances and genuinely congratulate each other.
Two performers that stood out were clarinetist Carey Bell and mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu. Both played/sang beautifully, but more importantly, they interacted well with the audience. To me, Bell portrayed a sense of nervousness, wiping his brow and finishing each movement with a sense of great effort and accomplishment, yet making every leap and dynamic change seem effortless. Constantinescu was quite the opposite, putting her operatic background to good use both vocally and gesturally, and playfully interacting with her fellow vocalists. Both will be performing in the upcoming performances of Elijah (Friday in Portland, Sunday in Eugene), and I'm already looking forward to attending.
—Jesse the Intern