Monday, June 01, 2009

First Baptist Church of Washington DC holds 2009 Soloists' Concert


On Sunday, May 31, 2009 the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC held a concert of “Six Glorious Soloists”.

Gregory Lowery started the concert with “The Vagabond”, by Ralph Vaughn Williams, a song at anticipates the Brahmsian “Toward the Unknown Region”. Later he performed “Some Enchanted Evening” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific”. I remember, as a boy, particularly the words, “who can explain it?”.

Jennifer Matthews a song from “Das Knaben Wunderhorn,” by Gustav Mahler, “Wo die schonen Trumpeten blasen” (“Where the beautiful trumpets blow”), where a young man says good bye to his lover and promises faithfulness and a reunion. This was the longest item on the concert, and it seems to vacillate between E minor and E-flat major. Mahler, whatever his artistic eccentricities, was a devoted husband to Alma. It’s interesting to me that I found so much emotion in music like this but did not relate to the social expectations that it described. Later Jennifer sung “Voi che sapete” (“You who know”) from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” She joined Deborah Miller with “Si! Fuggire” from Bellini’s “I Capuketi e I Montecchi” as a female couple emulating the love between Romeo and Juliet. Draw what political conclusions you like. Deborah Miller also performed “Notre Amour” (“Our Love”) by Gabriel Faure, and “Sola, perduta, abbandonatta” (“Alone, lost, abandoned”) from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Miller also closed the concert with “Art Is Calling for Me” from Victor Herbert’s “The Enchantress”.

Kevin Thompson sang “Si tra I ceppi” from Berenice by Handel, and then the wild “Ecco Il mondo” (“Hate the World”) from Boito’s Mefistofele, where the protagonist holds a globe of the world and shows his contempt for it. He would also sing “Ol’ Man River” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Showboat”.

Aurelio Dominguez sang “Fra poco a me ricovero” from “Lucia di Lammermoore” by Donizetti, and the famous “La donna e mobile” (“Women are fickle”) by Rigoletto. I recall listening to that aria on old 78’s at Wednesday afternoon music classes back in the 1950s when I took piano, and I agreed with the meaning of the text.

Issachah Savage sang “O Paradis” from Meyerbeer’s “L’Africaine” and “This Is the Moment” from Frank Wildhorn’s “Jekyll and Hyde” (note the review of "The Civil War" in April 2009 on this blog).

Michael Bachman accompanied on piano, but he also played three solo pieces.

The first piece was the Chopin Nocturne in F, Op. 25, #1, which I remember from piano myself. It also seemed a bit too sentimental, and with some awkward harmonies, although the middle section rocks. Then he played the Nocturne in D-flat, Op. 26, #2, which was on Istomin’s Columbia recording from the late 1950s, which I had then and sometimes played that summer after my high school graduation when I had friends over for chess. It’s funny how one remembers things like that. He also performed the Lizst transcription of Robert Scumann’s Widmung, which becomes a romantic fantasy.

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