Talley sets a deliberate pace in Haydn

April 15, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

The Naval Academy Glee Club's Spring Oratorio concert might appear to be the runt of the litter amid the visiting orchestras and opera companies on the academy's annual Distinguished Artists Series, but it never works out that way.

In fact, the Requiems of Brahms and Mozart and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" have been among the highlights of recent seasons in these parts.

This year's oratorio program, consisting of works by Sprenkle and Rachmaninoff, plus the magisterial "Lord Nelson" Mass of Haydn, may not have lived up to that admirable standard set in past years, but there was still much to enjoy.

Conductor John Barry Talley is always worth a listen because, more than any other conductor on the local scene, he is not afraid to allow the music to proceed at a deliberate pace, to savor musical phrases.

His handling of Haydn's sublime "Et Incarnatus Est" is a case in point. Every word and note of the expansive phrases spoke eloquently.

Mr. Talley also manages to be urbane and civilized without sounding the least bit uninvolved -- a difficult balance to achieve, yet an indispensable one for Haydn.

What a delightful sense of lift he fashioned at "Quoniam Tu Solus" without having to push the tempo.

His midshipmen, augmented by singers from Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges, sounded particularly adept in Haydn's crackerjack "In Gloria Dei Patri" fugue.

They lost some steam late in the work -- a rather blah "Benedictus," I'd have to say -- but, on the whole, they can be proud of their work.

So can soprano Tamara Crout who is destined for great things, especially if she can turn the power up a notch to project more of her sumptuous tone.

Mezzo Jeanne Kelly and bass Robert Kennedy were their usual attractive selves, but tenor Richard Turner was disgracefully unprepared for the performance. A new Mass could have been written out of the incorrect notes he sang Sunday.

Everyone could have "played the hall" more. The treble range is not treated kindly at Alumni Hall. Anything remotely tentative from the violins and sopranos is going to die. Adjustments must be made.

Aside from inaudible fiddles, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra was in good form, especially in the deep sonorities of Rachmaninoff.

Also to be commended for their splendid work in the Mass are the ASO trumpets and solo oboe James Dale.

Elam Sprenkle's "Overture" had its moments. How could a setting of Oliver Wendell Holmes' "Old Ironsides" miss at the Naval Academy?

But was the work co-composed by the Energizer Bunny?

-! It kept going and going . . .

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