Concert Artists' performance polished

May 09, 1994|By W. Andrew Powell | W. Andrew Powell,Special to The Sun

When Edward Polochick called his Saturday program at the College of Notre Dame "a curious mix," he wasn't kidding.

But the Concert Artists of Baltimore artistic director also suggested that by evening's end we would grasp the logic of bundling music by Falla, Eduardo Plaza, Rodriguez Socas, Guastavino, Antonio Esteves and Ginastera with the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto.

The logic never quite made itself clear.

What did emerge were a string of ably prepared, usually polished, sometimes probing performances -- an apt tribute to this group's adventurous spirit as it wound up the first season of a LeClerc Hall residency.

Falla's "El amor brujo" set a standard at the concert's opening that was not matched later.

Mr. Polochick drew wonderfully focused playing from his small orchestra, letting the composer's amorous magic work in hushed, gently gradated tones.

His approach was winningly supported by the creamy mezzo-soprano of Victoria Lee Miller, whose attention to the text more than made up for a lack of Andalusian darkness in the "Cancion del amor dolido."

The alert and ready orchestra was then left to sit idly while Mr. Polochick's singers delivered six pretty, if shallow, a cappella works.

Of these, Guastavino's "Tres canciones de cuna" offered the most substance, while the Esteves "Cancion de la molinera" gained from superb articulation.

Ginastera's biting, reflective "Variaciones concertantes" brought the musicians back into the picture for what turned out to be a less than persuasive reading. This colorful work needs more imaginative direction if it is not to seem like a brilliantly scored rondo preceded by a pod of aimless doodles.

After intermission, Notre Dame music chairman Ernest Ragogini was the soloist in a wholesome, lively reading of the Beethoven, distinguished by a finely etched second movement.

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