Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: 'Five Shakespeare Sonnets' by Rufus Wainwright with the SF Symphony

A lot has been said about Rufus Wainwright's Five Shakespeare Sonnets in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony. I was not blown away, nor did I expect to be. While the orchestration was gorgeous, I would have welcomed more breathing time in the compositions. Shakespeare’s poetry came at the audience so quickly, they felt hurried. I would have liked some time between vocal lines to digest, and maybe a little break from Rufus' vocals.

Wainwright’s vocal timbre is a specific taste. You either like it or you don’t. He is one of the few vocalists that can pull off nasaled, and I was curious to see if it would work in a concert setting. It would be interesting to hear a classically trained vocalist attempt to perform these pieces as there were moments of strained higher notes. In popular music, this can commonplace and even artistic, but on the Davies Hall stage, it seemed a little strange. I'm still on the fence if I personally liked it or not.


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