Chamber choir, orchestra give fine performance

March 31, 1995|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

I spent some very pleasant time at St. Anne's Church Saturday evening, courtesy of J. Ernest Green and his Annapolis Chorale Chamber Choir.

With soprano soloist Jane Adler and members of the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Green and his singers presented a program of delectable masterworks: Bach's Easter cantata, "Christ lag in Todesbanden"; Mozart's "Exsultate, Jubilate"; "Regina Coeli," the Albinoni Adagio; and the "Farewell" Symphony of Haydn.

The chamber choir is in fine fettle these days, especially its female singers. Once things got going, the choir's Bach was virile and incisive, and Mozart's K.127 "Regina Coeli" -- a product of the most unearthly adolescence in music history -- was delivered with appropriate spunk in the outer movements and touches of songful introspection in the middle.

Mr. Green's orchestra plays Bach passionately, with few, if any, concessions to pared-down baroque authenticity. Well and good, but if we are to have lush, 20th century playing in a setting as reverberant as St. Anne's, greater pains should be taken to balance the orchestra with the singers. The choir was simply no match for the players in the opening portions of the cantata.

The choristers are also a little light on their German. More polish would probably help them cut through the orchestral textures.

Soloist Jane Adler is a New York City soprano who clearly has a future in the baroque and classical repertoire.

Her voice is clear, sweet and strong, and she conveys love for what she is doing, which is most refreshing.

Ms. Adler is dextrous enough to make it through Mozart's agility drills unscathed, although her tendency to crescendo during downward runs becomes annoying after a while.

The orchestra did well with the Haydn symphony, especially its delightful second movement. There were iffy moments in the Minuet, which sounded tossed together in a hurry.

But the Finale was brought off nicely as the players exited at various junctures, re-enacting Haydn's good-natured musical protest against his patron's unilateral extension of the court orchestra's concert season.

I'm no great fan of Albinoni's ubiquitous Adagio, but here it received a cool, rather chaste reading that actually made the piece sound somewhat interesting.

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