Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

James Agee and Joélle Harvey made me like Samuel Barber

San Diego Symphony's A Village Romeo and Julietand Knoxville Summer of 1915

Chilhowee Park, Knoxville, circa 1915
Chilhowee Park, Knoxville, circa 1915

Soprano Joélle Harvey was my favorite part of the San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, March 1, at Symphony Hall. Over the years I’ve been critical and disappointed with the vocal experience at the symphony but it’s getting better and with Ms. Harvey, we received a performance which was special.

There is something beyond a fine voice or fine diction or fine intonation which goes into a special performance. The added ingredient Harvey included was inflection which conveyed an emotional connection to the text and the music.

We should probably discuss what it was she was singing.

The concert began with a suite from A Village Romeo and Juliet by Frederick Delius. The suite was compiled by Delius’s champion of all champions, Sir Thomas Beecham. I enjoy Delius and I enjoyed this performance. It was the first time I’d heard Delius performed by a live orchestra.

Next was Samuel Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915. I have been, in these pages, a fanboy of James Agee’s text of the same title and a solid “meh” on Barber’s setting of that text. However, put me in the hall with a singer such as Joélle Harvey and orchestra such as the San Diego Symphony with Edo de Waart conducting and my estimation of Barber is on the rise — kind of.

What worked most for me was the performance of Ms. Harvey. For instance, on the vocal high point of the piece, Harvey let her voice relax into the top note and led the crescendo with her vibrato. That last sentence makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t studied voice. In fact, it probably doesn’t make sense to some who have studied voice.

What that means is that Harvey didn’t force tone. Instead, she increased the amplitude of her vibrato. I must be clear that she increased the amplitude of the vibrato not the length or width of her vibrato. The effect is to increase the height of the vibration, not the width—never, ever the width—which creates a shimmering tone which brings out a voice’s ultimate beauty. That ability is, in my opinion, the preeminent quality of bel canto singing.

Brava Joélle Harvey!

The second half of the concert was Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. It is my least favorite Mahler symphony. I wish I could say I had a moment of grace such as I had with Barber’s Knoxville but I didn’t. Any symphony which has four flutes, two piccolos, and no trombones is going to be difficult for me to digest. Of course, Joélle Harvey sang brilliantly in the final movement.

That final movement was somewhat cheeky as Das Knabern Wunderhorn text explained what all the saints are doing in heaven. I chuckled when Ms. Harvey sang the text explaining that Martha is the cook in heaven.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Giovanni Sgambati – an Italian Liszt

Wagner pushed for publication of Sgambati’s two piano quintets.
Next Article

The glamour and crime of Tijuana

Club Campestre abduction, cross-border prostitution, Russian-owned gym, TJ's new night scene
Chilhowee Park, Knoxville, circa 1915
Chilhowee Park, Knoxville, circa 1915

Soprano Joélle Harvey was my favorite part of the San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, March 1, at Symphony Hall. Over the years I’ve been critical and disappointed with the vocal experience at the symphony but it’s getting better and with Ms. Harvey, we received a performance which was special.

There is something beyond a fine voice or fine diction or fine intonation which goes into a special performance. The added ingredient Harvey included was inflection which conveyed an emotional connection to the text and the music.

We should probably discuss what it was she was singing.

The concert began with a suite from A Village Romeo and Juliet by Frederick Delius. The suite was compiled by Delius’s champion of all champions, Sir Thomas Beecham. I enjoy Delius and I enjoyed this performance. It was the first time I’d heard Delius performed by a live orchestra.

Next was Samuel Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915. I have been, in these pages, a fanboy of James Agee’s text of the same title and a solid “meh” on Barber’s setting of that text. However, put me in the hall with a singer such as Joélle Harvey and orchestra such as the San Diego Symphony with Edo de Waart conducting and my estimation of Barber is on the rise — kind of.

What worked most for me was the performance of Ms. Harvey. For instance, on the vocal high point of the piece, Harvey let her voice relax into the top note and led the crescendo with her vibrato. That last sentence makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t studied voice. In fact, it probably doesn’t make sense to some who have studied voice.

What that means is that Harvey didn’t force tone. Instead, she increased the amplitude of her vibrato. I must be clear that she increased the amplitude of the vibrato not the length or width of her vibrato. The effect is to increase the height of the vibration, not the width—never, ever the width—which creates a shimmering tone which brings out a voice’s ultimate beauty. That ability is, in my opinion, the preeminent quality of bel canto singing.

Brava Joélle Harvey!

The second half of the concert was Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. It is my least favorite Mahler symphony. I wish I could say I had a moment of grace such as I had with Barber’s Knoxville but I didn’t. Any symphony which has four flutes, two piccolos, and no trombones is going to be difficult for me to digest. Of course, Joélle Harvey sang brilliantly in the final movement.

That final movement was somewhat cheeky as Das Knabern Wunderhorn text explained what all the saints are doing in heaven. I chuckled when Ms. Harvey sang the text explaining that Martha is the cook in heaven.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Ocean Beach trash altruist

Cameron Reid covers Niagara and Narragansett, Sunset Cliffs to Abbott.
Next Article

Poppin’ Padres petition for permanent props in stands

The Crowd Goes Mild!
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close