Saturday, April 27, 2013

Concert Reviews - April 2013

Part of a series of reviews of concerts I attend. Select "Concert Reviews" from the list of labels in the sidebar to see all of them.


Wheaton College Conservatory of Music
Mozart’s Requiem
Friday, April 5
Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

Most years, the Wheaton Conservatory makes a project of preparing and presenting one of the masterworks of the classical repertoire. Some years are more involved than others; this year’s presentation of the Requiem Mass in D Minor (K. 626) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was about medium-level, in that it involved four of the large ensembles and a week’s worth of special rehearsals.

Mozart’s Requiem is one of the great works I am most familiar with, as there are two standard trombone excerpts from it. Interestingly, I missed having the chance to play those parts by two years both ways – the Conservatory presented the Requiem the year I was a junior in high school, and now again two years after I graduated.

Standing ovation for Dr. Trotter, soloists, choirs, and orchestra
But I immensely enjoyed being an audience member for this presentation. The mass choir – containing the Concert Choir, Men’s Glee Club, and Women’s Chorale, sounded as good as I have ever heard them. Diction, balance, phrasing – all good.

One regrettable part of the performance was the difficulty in hearing the vocal soloists. I had heard all four of them sing before and I know they are talented, capable singers, but due perhaps to the dynamic of the hall and the large orchestra behind them, it was hard to hear them at times.

However, in sum, it was an excellent performance, and I want to congratulate Dr. John William Trotter on his first masterwork project at Wheaton.

Civic Orchestra of Chicago
Monday, April 8
Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, Chicago, Illinois

The Civic Orchestra’s April home concert, under the direction of its principal conductor, Cliff Colnot, had two works, one of which I knew, one of which I did not, and both of which I heard live for the first time.

The concert opened with the short “descriptive orchestral piece” The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62 by Anatoly Liadov (I must admit I had not heard of Liadov, or if I had had forgotten about him since my music history classes).

Immediately following was the piece I had been looking forward to hearing since the Civic’s season was announced: Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. As I said above, this was the first time I had heard this piece performed live, though I knew it with some familiarity due to its having a standard trombone excerpt.

The Civic’s performance of the suite was, in two words, energetic and passionate. I could tell the Civic brass section received coaching from members the CSO brass section, because they seemed to channel some of that power into the brass-heavy passages. Concertmaster Emily Nash performed the frequent violins solos (which represent Queen Scheherazade’s storytelling) with incredible sensitivity. When Colnot acknowledged soloists individually, he saved her for last, and he was clearly elated with her work – as were all of us on our feet in the audience.

The Wheaton College Symphonic Band
Concert in Blue
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

Dr. Timothy Yontz, director of the Symphonic Band, has a knack for creating diverse programs for the Band’s home concerts. This spring concert, however, was the first time I can remember him giving a theme to a home concert (I say “home concert” to distinguish from biannual Children’s Concerts and Christmas Festivals). The theme was simply “Blue,” and most of the works on the program had the word blue in their titles. That connecting theme yielded another wonderfully diverse program, showcasing the immense talent of this wonderfully diverse group of young musicians. There were pieces with a jazz influence (“Blue Moon” and “Rhapsody in Blue”) and one piece performed in collaboration with the Concert Choir, to name a few. It was, as always, well done.

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