Polochick inspires first-class singing Music: The orchestral part of the Concert Artists of Baltimore's season-opener was a bit off the mark.

October 13, 1998|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Many of Edward Polochick's fine qualities as a conductor were on display Saturday evening in LeClerq Hall. This season-opening program of his Concert Artists of Baltimore fell into two parts, "Orchestral Works of Mendelssohn and Gade" and "The Romantic Choral Sound."

It was the latter that drew the most inspired work from Polochick and his choristers. A performance of the Irish composer Charles Stanford's lovely "The Blue Bird" was exquisite -- immaculate in its details, beautiful in its balances and shimmering with atmosphere.

Similar felicities could be heard in performances of a cappella choruses of Berlioz (an excerpt from "L'enfance du Christ") and Verdi (the "Ave Maria" from the "Four Sacred Pieces"), which were hushed and devotional, without hint of sentimentality. In the Berlioz, tenor Taylor Armstrong was the stylish soloist.

Polochick and his singers also caught the fizzing nonsense of Rossini's "Toast pour le nouvel an" and captured the romantic bloom of songs by Brahms and Gade.

The orchestral part of the concert demonstrated Polochick's resourcefulness as a programmer; it was a pleasure to hear the rarely performed "Novelletter" No. 1 for Strings (opus 53) of Gade.

Gade (1817-1890) was among the most important of the European composers who carried the Mendelssohnian mantle.

Mendelssohn is the obvious influence in the "Novelletter" No. 1, which dates from 1874, but there is no question that Gade's fluency and charm were very much his own.

While enthusiastic and warm, Polochick's performance, particularly in the work's final movement, failed to make the most persuasive case for the score's transparency and delicacy.

Some of the same problems could be heard in a performance of excerpts from the Incidental Music to "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

In the Scherzo, the articulation of the strings and winds was not well-coordinated and failed to meet the music's demand for delicacy.

The singing of the chorus and soloists (soprano Ah Hong and mezzo-soprano Alison Enokian), however, was first-class.

Also first-class was MinJung Kang, who was the violin soloist in Mendelssohn's beloved Concerto in E Minor.

Kang, a student of Victor Danchenko at Peabody and winner of last year's Yale Gordon Competition, gave a performance that was marked by a direct, spontaneous manner, a strong sense of line and a consistently sweet and singing tone.

Pub Date: 10/13/98

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