Keenlyside at the Barbican

A thoroughly grown-up concert, this one… Even Keenlyside himself described it as being ‘suicidal’, so dark and despairing were many of the choices. It was, however, a very rewarding recital, with great variety of musical style, delivered with tremendous artistry.

The forthright delivery of anger-infused pieces such as Britten’s Songs & Proverbs of William Blake or Eisler’s settings of Brecht gave way in the second half to a beautifully expressive legato in four songs by Schubert. Always as physically expressive as he was vocally, Keenlyside drew us in to the poetry of yearning, loss and love. Some, such as the Britten and the Eisler settings, seemed a very sharp commentary on contemporary society, particularly in London: “For the unsuccessful, Paradise itself serves as hell-fire,” according to Brecht. For the four encores, the carefully curated individuality of the programme continued with nothing so hackneyed as Zueignung but, rather, more Wolf and Schubert, ending with Die Sterne.  Throughout, Malcolm Martineau matched Keenlyside with sensitive, dynamically expressive playing.

2013’s last musical event (for me) was a definite winner.

Full programme reproduced below:

Keenlyside Martineau - programme cover

Keenlyside, Martineau. Barbican 18 December 2013. Cover of programme.

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