Monday, October 08, 2012

Purcell at Philharmonia Baroque

The Philharmonia Baroque orchestra opened its 32nd season last week with an obscure set of incidental music to a play called The Prophetess; or, The History of Dicloesian. They opened at the Center for the Performing Arts in Atherton on Wednesday, and then brought the show to the Herbst Theatre on Friday evening above, just in time for a stink bomb of a review by the San Francisco Chronicle's classical music critic, Joshua Kosman.

After being publicly warned that the singing and the performance was "underwhelming," it was a happy surprise that the evening turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable, with particularly fine contributions by the chorus and soloists Jonathan Smucker above, and John Bischoff below left.

Being a professional critic must be a strange job. I have occasionally received free tickets to concerts that didn't do anything for me other than put me to sleep. Sometimes it was because the concert was authentically boring, but often it can be attributed to a lack of sleep, a grumpy stomach, or simply not being in the mood. In those cases, I usually contact somebody at the organization and thank them for the tickets with a note that I won't be writing about the event because I didn't have anything nice to say. Life is too short to write about bad art, unless you're being paid for it.

After the performance, there was a lovely reception in the basement for the "LGBT community," which seemed rather odd in its inclusion/exclusion. I teased my heterosexual acquaintances who showed up at the event, asking them if they were Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered. "Or are you Questioning?" was the punch line.

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