This month the final performance of the 2016–17 season of San Francisco Performances (SFP) will also be the last of the four recitals in the Vocal Series. The featured vocalist will be soprano Carolyn Sampson, who will be making her San Francisco recital debut. Her accompanist will be pianist Joseph Middleton, who will be making his third SFP appearance.
Sampson is no stranger to San Francisco. In October of 2013 she shared solo duties with countertenor David Daniels when the two performed Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s setting of the “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” hymn with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan. During that visit she also gave a master class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, which this observer still remembers for the arch approach she took to coaching the “Pur ti miro” (I gaze at you) “consummation” duet that finalizes Claudio Monteverdi’s opera L’incoronazione di Poppea (the coronation of Poppea). She then returned in the spring of 2014 to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s BWV 51 cantata, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (rejoice in God in all lands), when Ton Koopman conducted it while visiting the podium of the San Francisco Symphony.
Her recital debut will take in a much broader time scale. She has organized it around her debut solo recital album Fleurs (flowers), which was released by BIS about a year ago. (Middleton was also her accompanist on that recording.) The idea was to present songs setting poems about flowers in a diversity of languages. The English settings are by Roger Quilter and Benjamin Britten, through his figured bass realization for a song by Henry Purcell. Britten will also be on the program for his setting of Alexander Pushkin’s poem “The nightingale and the rose.” Britten wrote this for Galina Vishnevskaya, who sang it in Russian; but there is also an English text prepared by Peter Pears. German poetry is represented by Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, and Richard Strauss (the “usual suspects”). Finally, the French settings will be by Charles Gounod and Gabriel Fauré.
This program will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17. Like all of the other Vocal Series performances, it will be held in Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Single tickets are being sold for $65, $55, and $40. They may be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page. This Web page shows a seating plan with information about prices and availability in the different sections.