We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Bass Alex Rosen, Tenor Matthew Swensen, Mezzo-soprano Kelsey Lauritano, and Soprano Julia Wolcott
Concertmaster Carter Coleman, Maestro Gary Thor Wedow, Soprano Felicia Moore, and Collaborative Pianist Yun Wei

Mozart would have been completely satisfied with last night's dazzling evening which comprised his music, both sacred and secular. Where else but at Juilliard would one find the depth and breadth of talent in the vocal and instrumental areas to fill out such an ambitious program!

The first half of the program was devoted to secular music. Although our favorite Mozart symphonies remain his final two, there was plenty to enjoy in his Symphony No. 38 in C Major (the "Linz"). We have no idea why all the musicians, save the cellists and the tympanists, played in a standing position; if any readers have insight into this unusual configuration we hope they will comment below. We enjoyed most the melodic Andante and the spirited Presto Finale. 

But the pleasure of the symphony was far overshadowed by the knockout performance of the concert aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te?...Non temer, amato bene". Soprano Felicia Moore is as ample of voice as she is of stature, commanding the stage and owning the work. Her resonant voice filled Alice Tully Hall with overtones, the very molecules of air vibrating. There was plenty of bloom on top with substantial weight in the lower register. 

Ms. Moore has such command of technique that she was able to submerge herself in the text and to lean into certain notes with consummate expressivity. The various sections were differentially colored, lending the work enormous dramatic impact.  As her piano partner, Yun Wei's delicate hands flew over the keys, successfully limning Mozart's elaborate embellishments, also negotiated accurately and tastefully by the singer.  What a performance!

The second half of the program featured Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, the one he never finished. Much has been written (and filmed) about this swan song of a piece; the version we heard last night was completed and edited by Robert D. Levin.

With a major assist from the massive forces of the Westminster Schola Cantorum and the Westminster Chapel Choir, sounding very well rehearsed, the Juilliard musicians gave their all to Maestro Gary Thor Wedow's firm leadership.

Four terrific Juilliard singers were on hand and lived up to the promise of the music. Our favorite section was the Tuba mirum in which bass Alex Rosen established a firm foundation, joined by Matthew Swensen's unbelievably sweet tenor, then by  Kelsey Lauritano's rich mezzo, and finally by Julia Wolcott's clarion soprano.  For the final lines, their voices joined in deliciously well balanced harmony.

In the Recordare the cello section was outstanding and the four voices intermingled once more. We had one more opportunity to hear them in the Benedictus in which the chorus joined with vigor.

The Agnus Dei ended with a beautiful decrescendo symbolizing eternal rest.

Ms. Wolcott sang only one line in the Lux aeterna but she colored it with eternal light.

There was one more feature that we would like to highlight. The tympani are generally buried in the back of the orchestra and not very visible. Last night the tympanist Jake Darnell was exposed and our seats were quite close. This was a special treat throughout the entire performance, striking us as punctuation for the musical statements;  but his skill was particularly notable in the volley or drum roll that ended the Lacrimosa.  Just the recollection of it gives us goosebumps.

(c) meche kroop

No comments:

Post a Comment