By Lyman Leathers
For the final concert of its 35th season, Maestro Morales-Matos chose an interestingly varied program which included a world premiere and the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony.
Last Saturday night’s concert in Gray Chapel opened with Carl Maria Von Weber’s Overture to his opera, “Oberon.”
Echoing Shakespeare and anticipating Mendelssohn’s “Incidental Music to a Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Weber’s work opens with a wonderful solo for French Horn, ably performed by COSO’s principal Horn, Kim McCann. The engaging work made a proper introduction to the works that followed.
It was a special pleasure to welcome back Ioana Galu, who assumed the solo part in the Shrude work since she had served as concert master with COSO in 2006-09.
Marilyn Shrude is currently Chair of the Musicology-Composition-Theory Department at Bowling Green State University.Her work, “Libro d’ore” (“Book of Hours”) received its world premiere at this concert. Commissioned by COSO, the composer offers this comment: “A one-movement tour de force for the instrument. (It) loosely follows the idiosyncratic character of the Medieval Book of Hours, a collection of invocations, antiphons, hymns and psalms that were a a prayerful aspect of everyday life in the Middle Ages.”
I must confess that I didn’t hear much of this in the work as presented on Saturday night. It was helpful to have the composer and the orchestra illustrate certain passages before performing the whole work.
Cast in one movement, the orchestration is often rather exotic sounding, depending as it does for effects from wood blocks, and a large gong, struck very softly. The closing pages, give the violin a calming effect, after a rather heavy climax. It is good to hear new music even if it tends to empty the theater. However, as far as I know no one walked out of Gray Chapel.
That may be because most people were looking forward to the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony which came after the intermission. There are few works pretty much sure fire — guaranteed to produce a standing ovation at the end. The “Organ” Symphony is one of those. With the newly cleaned and transformed Rex Keller organ, with Robert Griffith who knows the instrument intimately at the keyboard, and the Central Ohio Symphony at full throttle, what could go wrong? Obviously, nothing. The result was the most satisfying concert of the season, and a fitting conclusion to a successful year.
The Delaware Community Chorus presented its Spring Concert last Sunday afternoon at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. As has been the custom of late, two identical sessions were planned. I attended the first, and was delighted by the interesting program that director Hursey had arranged. Under the general rubric of “Love is in the Air,” the theme carried through the three sections of the program.
Part 1 began with two selections sung acapella, followed by five more or less pop standards such as “In the still of the night,” “It might as well be spring,” and “When I fall in love” which involved a kind of mini chorus made up of Linda Staff,solo, Susanna George, Holly Gerspacher, Melissa Neil, Jane Maggio, Keith Johnson, David Rumbalski, Ray Schwartz, Paul Sabine, John Miller and Fred Grubbs. Then came two selections for women’s choir: “My True Love has my heart,” and “Matchmaker” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” conducted here by Kimberly Clary. The set ended with an Israeli song, “Erev Shef Shoshanim,”(Evening of Roses).
Part 2 was devoted to the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes. This was an ambitious undertaking, which was partially successful. The piano accompanists (one piano, two soloists:T.C.Kincer and Erin Petrella) were especially effective in capturing the spiritual lilt which moves the waltzes along. The first two songs involve the men in the chorus, and frankly more are needed. Kinberly Clary in “How dear, alas, was life together,” and David Rambalski in “Don’t wander,my light,”made significant contributions.Altogether Director Hursey drew a coherent sound from the chorus that captured much of what Brahms had in mind
The final section included some infectious pieces such as Irving Berlin’s “I love a piano” and “I’ve got my love to keep me warm” as well as Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.” Toss in a setting of Poe’s “Annabel Lee” and add Stephen Foster’s “Nelly Bly”and you have a lovely afternoon of music making.
Lyman Leathers is the Delaware Gazette Music Critic.