Reviews: Berg with the San Francisco Symphony

Joshua Cosman, Datebook:

“…the opening performance of Berg’s “Seven Early Songs,” with soprano Susanna Phillips as a vibrant, eloquent soloist, was captured for a promising future release on the in-house SFS Media label. With the arrival of “Die Nachtigall” (“The Nightingale”), Phillips’ considerable gifts — particularly her ability to unleash high notes that are both powerful and sheathed in velvety tone — came to the fore at last. Her evocation of birdsong shone through and above the orchestral accompaniment, and she brought a similar clarity of purpose to the compact expressivity of “Im Zimmer” (“In the Room”) and to the alluring charm of the final “Sommertage” (“Summer Days”).”

Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio:

“For her part Phillips could not have been a more satisfying vocalist. Her sense of pitch was impeccable, allowing her free rein to establish the position of her own sonorities among Berg’s instrumental resources. She also seemed to appreciate the extent to which each of the seven songs amounted to a miniaturist interpretation of a relatively brief poem. The texts were not as abbreviated as those of a haiku; but, through Phillips’ interpretation, one could appreciate each song as a passing moment, which seemed to reverberate in memory immediately after it concluded. Most important, however, was how Phillips worked with MTT to bring sheer transparency to music that, under less secure hands, could have been a muddle of overly-thick textures.”

Lively Foundation:

“The soloist, soprano Susanna Phillips has a clear, charming voice which was the perfect match for the music and the poetry. Good news: the performances of Berg’s Seven Early Songs were recorded for SFS Media.”

Macon Phillips