`Carmina Burana' sung with gusto

Annapolis: Two choruses and an orchestra combine their talents for a momentous performance at Maryland Hall.


Howard Live

November 20, 2003|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Chorale's 190 singers were joined by three major soloists and the 50-member Annapolis Chamber Orchestra to fill Maryland Hall's stage to capacity Saturday, and when the 50-member Youth Chorus entered later, it spilled down the side stairs into the audience.

Their combined sound filled the hall with haunting melodies to form a momentous performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

Music director J. Ernest Green had the formidable task of balancing sound levels between the large chorus and orchestra - much more difficult in a live performance than in recording, where balance is controlled in the booth.

With his customary zest, Green delivered a reading that emphasized dynamic contrasts, coaxing highly charged performances from the orchestra, soloists and chorus while maintaining the primitive, pulsing raw energy in the often-frantic beat.

From the opening choral and orchestral blast of "O Fortuna" describing the wheel of fate turning until the theme reappeared in a final reprise, the music swept us into a feasting, drinking and loving celebration of springtime.

Choral highs included the sopranos singing of spring in "Ecce gratum" and the men delivering lightning-paced, near-riotous drinking songs in the song "In the Tavern."

In sharp contrast was the incredibly sweet, light sound of the Youth Chorus in "Amor volat - Cupid flies everywhere" adding a bright new dimension to the Annapolis Chorale.

In addition to these noteworthy choral passages were ravishing vocal duets with a shining solo bassoon, an agile flute and percussive drama heightening choral segments. The full orchestra was alternately lush and robust, light and dynamically awesome, sometimes seeming almost possessed by a Bacchanalian force.

A distinct operatic quality was enhanced by the trio of gifted soloists, baritone Ryan de Ryke, Soprano Amy Cofield and tenor Andre Bierman.

At the conclusion of Carmina Burana, the audience gave the performers a standing ovation.

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