'King David' another jewel in Choral Arts Society crown

March 26, 1996|By David Donovan | David Donovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Baltimore Choral Arts Society and its music director, Tom Hall, have a well-deserved reputation for musically rewarding performances. Their performance of Honegger's "King David" in Kraushaar Auditorium Sunday afternooon only added to that reputation.

Hall's performance developed momentum that carried all the way through to the triumphant chorus that crowns this work. He was aided in no small part by his excellent orchestra. Trumpeteers Langston Fitzgerald and Gail Hutchens made solid contributions that never drowned out the chorus. Leslie Starr did more than justice to the score's exotic solos for oboe and English horn, and flutists Emily Controulis and Nancy Stagnitta were also enchanting. The percussion battery of Chris Williams and Dennis Kain kept up the same high standards that they displayed in their efforts in "Carmina Burana" earlier this season.

The three vocal soloists handled the demands of the score well. Tenor Tracey Welborn exhibited a beautiful voice and diction to match. Mezzo-soprano Deidra Palmour, whose part included the composer's best music in "King David," sang wonderfully, particularly in a powerful interpretation of Part II's devilish incantation scene. Soprano Lorna Haywood sang quite nicely, but her vowels showed a disconcerting tendency to vanish.

The real star of the performance, however, was the chorus. The women were especially effective in choruses that married words to music almost perfectly. But the tonal variety and diction of the chorus overall were nearly flawless and there was a sense of conviction that overcame all obstacles.

About all that went awry with this "King David" was a labored and unsteady narration by Peter Culman. The performance was preceded by a panel discussion, "Music and the Bible," that did little to elucidate the music to come.

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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