Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presents Celebration and Reflection
The Hudson Festival Chorus and Orchestra (OH), Thomas Scott, director; Susan Wozniak, soprano; Daniel Doty and Christopher McGilton, baritones
Coro de Cámara de Campina Grande (Brazil), Loiret’s Singers (France), Tutti Choir BSB (Brazil), Vladimir Silva, director; Julie Cassia Cavalcante, soprano; Jeonai Batista, tenor; Regiane Yamaguchi, piano
Church Choir Oberbuchsiten, Projektchor Peter & Paul Aarau, Singkreis Wohlen Bern-Projektchor “SMW” Frick-Kantorei der Stadtkirch Aarau, (Switzerland), Dieter Wagner, director; Miriam Wagner, piano
Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. New York, NY
May 26, 2017
Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) got Memorial Day weekend off to a fine start with a program showcasing widely disparate composers, conductors, nations, and styles, and all having sacred texts in common. All three conductors were uncommonly musical, even though their individual choral styles were, predictably, quite different from each other. They had the advantage of having their “native” choir(s) brought to New York, rather than having to conduct a massed choir assembled “on-the-spot” (though the results of those outings have also been uniformly splendid).
The evening began with the magic spell that is Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, which was prompted by the deaths of both of his parents within a few years’ time. It was presented in a scaled-down version corresponding to Fauré’s earliest conception when he was assistant organist in a small loft at Paris’ Eglise de la Madeleine. A well-written justification was offered in the program notes by the excellent conductor Thomas More Scott, although, as we know, Fauré went on to two more revisions of the work, each time expanding it because he was not satisfied with the limitations of the first. This performance, with fifty-four singers and thirteen instrumentalists, allowed the many felicities of counterpoint to emerge with clarity. The overwhelming gentleness of Fauré’s view of the mass for the dead was created beautifully by the choir, with sensitive dynamics. All the soloists were good, especially since they were drawn from the ranks of the choir. For me, this rendition was more subtly effective than the heavily professionalized, sometimes inflated, versions one often hears.
The evening continued with a Brazilian composer’s (Danilo Guanais) setting of the Ordinary of the Catholic Mass, accompanied by piano and a light percussion duo. His philosophy of man as part of a community that believes and professes its collective faith was beautifully displayed in a work that abounded in textural variety from section to section, and accessible music with the occasional “Latin” flavor. There were so many lovely moments. I will only be able to cite the pastorale of Qui propter nos homines, the spooky moans and groans added to the Crucifixus, the twin solos in the Confiteor, and the tenor’s beautiful Benedictus. Both soloists were effective, with Jeonai Batista possessing an especially sweet lyric tenor. Conductor Vladimir Silva, obviously steeped in the style, led a dynamically vivid performance, with great energetic cut-offs.
After intermission, a consortium of Swiss choral groups sang a handful of too-seldom performed chorales and motets by Felix Mendelssohn, under the gorgeous choral conducting of Dieter Wagner (not to be confused with Richard Wagner’s grandson), both a cappella and with piano. Wagner’s motions brilliantly conveyed his meaning to the choir (the evening’s largest group) with the space and lyrical flow so appropriate to this music. All the selections showed Mendelssohn’s “debt” (if you can call it that) to Bach and the German Protestant tradition, perhaps inheritance would be a preferable word. In the final Hör mein Bitten (Hear My Prayer), a female vocal quartet from the choir was front and center for the lovely entreaty that was answered and complemented by the full choir.
What an inspiring evening!