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2012.03.07 Elijah, Barbican Hall, London: Lucy Crowe, Arthur Kennedy, Britten Sinfonia, Andreas Delfs


7 March 2012, 19:30h

Barbican Hall, London

Britten Sinfonia
Britten Sinfonia Voices
Andreas Delfs
Lucy Crowe soprano
Catherine Wyn-Rogers alto
Andrew Kennedy tenor
Simon Keenlyside baritone

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Elijah

Sound Bites

Edward Seckerson, 8.3.2012 + Independent, 9.3.2012

” …. Yes, there was Simon Keenlyside, “on stage” in every phrase and gesture and not averse to turning upstage to remonstrate with the Priests of Baal. He only lost his authority when the musical line plunged to bass-baritone territory and found him wanting and anxious to haul it back up to where he shines. But shine he did and his 19th century attitude to the drama was well-met by all the soloists: ….”

Mark Berry, Boulezian blog spot, 8.3.2012

“… There was much, nevertheless, to relish in the solo singing. Simon Keenlyside made an excellent Elijah, not a bluff prophet, but a thoughtful, sometimes even conflicted soul, sensitive to an unusual degree, whether in terms of characterisation or verbal acuity. The pathos to his delivery of ‘It is enough…’ reminded one, despite the language, of Bach: recitative it might be, but Keenlyside – and, I think, Mendelssohn too – brought the music, not for the first time, closer to arioso. …”

Geoff Brown, The Times, 9.3.2012

” …Especially Simon Keenlyside. A veteran of that Proms performance, his ringing baritone still couldn’t make Elijah seem someone you’d want to invite to dinner; he would rail and smite, and not pass the salt. Yet here his vocal machismo and wide-ranging colours disabled resistance. He also gave the prophet sensitivity and intelligence; by the time of the humbling aria It is Enough, with plangent decorations from Caroline Dearnley’s cello, we were putty in Keenlyside’s hands. …”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane March 11, 2012 at 8:53 am

I wholeheartedly agree with Diana. It was a great evening’s performance. I was sitting so absurdly close to Simon and the soprano, Lucy Crowe, who in turn, were directly in front of the orchestra, that I was completely drawn into the music.
Simon did indeed appear to be suffering from a cold and as Diana says, he looked rather uneasy (and unwell) when he wasn’t singing, but when he got up to sing, he sprang to life and was transformed into Elijah and was brilliant. Being so close, I was acutely aware of that magnificent resonance in his voice – it was rather like having a live version of my mp3 player! What a treat!
It was also very touching when the young treble soloist had a croaky start to his first few lines, which must have been utterly mortifying for the poor child and when Simon sang to him again on the lines “Hearest thou no sound of rain?” he put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. I assumed that he did it to try and give him moral support, in which case, it was a very thoughtful gesture.

diana jones March 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

The critics are right – Simon was amazing!!! And with what appeared to be a rather nasty cold too! He looked physically quite uncomfortable during the parts when he wasn’t actually singing, but once on his feet, his whole demeanour changed, his voice rang out magnificently, and the actor in him came to the fore with his looks and his gestures!! You couldn’t wish for, or get, a better Elijah! The other soloists were also excellent, as were the chorus and orchestra, and it was altogether a wonderful evening’s entertainment!

Jane January 31, 2011 at 11:06 am

Crumbs! The tickets are indeed on sale now and going fast…..

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