Handel, Saul, R. Joshua, L. Zazzo,
G. Saks, Concerto Köln, RIAS Kammerchor, R. Jacobs
Saks was at his best in a set of songs by Shostakovich, set to poems in English and composed in 1942. The poetry, alternately edgy and banal -- a Walter Raleigh sonnet about the ingredients of hanging, a Shakespeare sonnet about the desperation of the creative life (the line "art made tongue-tied by authority" must have resonated with Shostakovich), ballads by Robert Burns, and a nursery rhyme (an absurdist miniature playing on the insipid description of military concerns) -- is matched to music in an often sparing, bleak style, and the combination engaged the best side of Saks's imagination. The same was true of Gerald Finzi's Let Us Garlands Bring, a setting of poems by Shakespeare that is all too often heard in voice student recitals (I have accompanied them in that sort of setting more than once). Shakespeare's verse already has its own complicated music, making putting it to music fiendishly difficult, but along with Britten, Finzi had the greatest success. Again, brilliant text and unusual music brought out the best in Saks and in his accompanist, Roger Vignoles, who was at his most assured and exciting in these two sets.
Anne Midgette, Gidon Saks’s brilliant and idiosyncratic singing performance (Washington Post, June 1)
Donald Rosenberg, Stepping out of the ensemble: Opera singers Brewer, Saks plan solo recitals for Art Song Festival (Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 20)
Patricia O'Kelly, the Managing Director of Media Relations for the NSO, has informed me that Martin Hackleman, the orchestra's principal horn player, has resigned, not retired, effective at the end of this season.