CONCERT ARTISTS OF Baltimore has demonstrated again that it has
comfortably moved into a welcome home between the mansions of the BSO/big choruses and the intimate local world of chamber music.
The 60 singers and instrumentalists painted vivid pictures of grief, God's love and humanity's optimism in a satisfying Friedberg Concert Hall performance Saturday night of two instrumental works, a choral mass and a combined oratorio.
Under Edward Polochick, the artistic director, Ralph Vaughn Williams' "Mass in G Minor" (1920-21) was sung by 30 choristers in a moving performance of the Latin in wonderful clarity, whether strong or hushed.
Singing solo parts with conviction were soprano Barbara Stashkevetch, alto Jean Crichton, tenor James Bailey and bass Randal Woodfield.
Earlier, the orchestra's strings captured the harshness of the Nazis in Paris in its emotional playing of the dissonances in Arthur Honegger's "Symphony No. 2 for Strings" (1941).
A gloomy viola solo by Jennifer Rende, principal violist, began the first movement and the strings continued into black-tinted horror and defiance. The third movement was Honegger's optimism, capped by the surprise trumpet notes of Jeff Silberschlag in the rear balcony.
Polochick prepared the audience of more than 300 with helpful, concise forecasts of key passages in the Honegger work and the vocal-instrumental opener, Samuel Barber's "Prayers of Kierkegaard" (1954).
Soprano Deborah Kent, alto Victoria Lee Miller and tenor Joseph Pavesich offered solo passages in the prayer of the Dane, Soren Kierkegaard.
The bright folk-rooted melodies of Antonin Dvorak's "Suite in D 'Czech'" (1879) closed the two-hour, 15-minute evening with happy bouncy thoughts. It was a piece people could smile about and some did, even some orchestra players.
Polochick and his all-professional troupe dedicated the season's first concert at Friedberg Hall to the memory of Thomas Buttimer, board president, who was killed in an automobile accident this summer.
"We mourn Tom personally and professionally," Polochick said. Succeeding Buttimer are co-chairpersons Cordelia Ogrinz and Richard Leitch.