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Bach Society's October Concert Gets Strong Applause!
By Henry C. Mayer
The Louisville Bach Society's October Concert will be long remembered by all who had the good fortune to hear it. Director Melvin Dickerson can be depended on for a quality program but this time he outdid himself, both in program selection and inspiration for his musicians. Special mention should go to the Society's Resident Artists, Mary Wilson-Redden, soprano; Michele Wogaman, alto; Harvey Turner, tenor and Alexander Redden, bass.
The program opened with Bach's Cantata #68, "God So Loved The World." This beautiful and inspiring work has five parts; in two, the chorus is emphasized in two places while soloists are spotlighted in the others. Bach's inspiration and the Society's performance both obviously uplifted the audience.
Then followed two lesser-known but highly listenable pieces by Felix Mendelsohn. The first was a concert piece for clarinet and basset horn - probably inspired by Mozart, who composed works for these two instruments. Louisville Orchestra's Dallas Tidwell and Ernest Grass did somewhat more than justice to the composer's creativity. The other number, Salve Regina (a hymn to Jesus' Mother), was the composer's first solo church work. It was almost incredible to think that this was written when he was only fifteen. Antoinette Hardin's rendering was dignified, reverent and moving.
The Society then turned to work by the 20th Century English Master, Herbert Howells. Though a versatile composer, today Howells is best known for his church music. From this category, Maestro Dickerson selected the anthem, "Oh pray for the peace of Jerusalem," based on Psalm 122, v.6-7. It is a fervent plea for deliverance from the almost continual air bombing of Britain.
The second half of the program was Schubert's "Mass in A Flat Major." It was another local first for the Society, which has also introduced Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Bach's B-Minor Mass, plus the Passions of SS Matthew and John. Like them, this performance was a stirring triumph.
Asked why he selected this piece, Dickerson observed "though Bach is my first love, I have always admired this work by Schubert. It is difficult to sing but I have always been inspired by it and wanted others to have that experience."
Talking with Society vocalist Harvey Turner, we learned about this piece's difficulties. "There are sudden changes in the score; its range is especially challenging; it requires singers of both sexes to be confident and competent in two octaves but the women's parts are more demanding."
Next for the Bach Society is their Annual Christmas Concert, at 3 p.m. on December 5 and, at 7:30 p.m. on December 6, the Annual Messiah Performance.
For more information, call 585-BACH.
Victories For The Human Spirit!
By Henry C. Mayer
As usual, Louisville orchestra's season opener, the Fanfara Concert, was something special. But this year's was something extra.
Maestro Uriel Segal put it this way: when performing the classics, there is the vast tradition of past performances for inspiration. That also brings the challenge to find our own individual voice in the performance, lest the spontaneity be lost.
This is especially true for a piece as frequently performed as Peter Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. It represents the triumph of the human spirit, since the composer wrote it while overcoming the difficulties of personal depression and the hostilities of distinguished critics and fellow performers. Each artist brings to it his or her own gifts and life experiences, and so too, did the Orchestra in its spirited performance of this work of genius. Emphasizing that it is primarily a piece for the virtuoso violinist takes nothing from the Orchestra's perfromance.
Though acclaimed the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman gave a singular interpretation of a piece which challenges anyone who seeks to play it. No one can see and hear it without recognizing Mr. Perlman's singular achievement with the violin. He brings to it a singular integration of rare talent, hours of rehearsing, an abiding love and commitment for this piece and its composer. There are few pieces for the violin that can tell us so much about an artist (and human) like Itzhak Perlman.
The Concerto is in three distinct movements and each makes its own demands. It is a happy experience to report that Mr. Perlman was more than up to them and the audience was thoroughly appreciative of that. The listener has to give this piece both careful hearing and a thoughtful reading of its program notes. The beauty of this work makes one wonder how a critic could know it was once considered unplayable. Today, would anyone say that, realizing that Tchaikovsky put his whole self into its composition, especially just after a time in his life in which he had to overcome severe depression?
And so, music is a singular tribute to the human spirit, both in its composition and performance.