The National Chorale
National Chorale Orchestra
New York, NY 10019
Martin Josman, Music Director
Christine Arand, Soprano
José Lemos, Counter Tenor
Jonathan Beyer, Bass
Carmina Burana by Carl Orff
Performed at Avery Fisher Hall
(Lincoln Center Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 29, 2011
Gott in der natur (1842) by Franz Schubert, (Women’s Chorus, Piano)
Salut Printemps (1882) by Claude Debussy ((Women’s Chorus, Soprano, Piano)
God’s Bottles from Americana (1932) by Randall Thompson (Women’s Chorus)
The Lark (1955) by Leonard Bernstein (Chorus, Soprano, Counter Tenor)
In Defense of Corinth (1942) by Elliott Carter (Men’s Chorus, Narrator, Piano 4 hands)
Carmina Burana (1935) by Carl Orff (Chorus, Soprano, Baritone, Tenor, Orchestra, Instrumental Ensemble, Male Chorus, Treble Chorus, Male Sextet)
The National Chorale, a professional choral company, successfully performs annual NY seasons at Avery Fisher Hall. The Chorale, founded in 1967, tours nationally and presents concerts in NYC parks each summer. They also work with students in the pubic schools as Artists-in-Residence. Martin Josman is Music Director of the Chorale. Mr. Josman has conducted thousands of concerts across the country and has often appeared on television. He also directed the music for a TV special on President Kennedy and is renowned for presenting new and commissioned works. (Program Notes).
Tonight’s spring concert at Fisher Hall, presented by The National Chorale, National Chorale Orchestra, and three operatic soloists was highlighted by a dynamic presentation of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, composed in 1935. It includes an introduction of “Fortune, Empress of the World”, followed by “In Springtime”, “In the Tavern”, and “The Court of Love”. The Carmina, according to program notes, were songs of medieval characters “who left universities and monasteries to pursue a roaring life of gambling, drinking, and making love”. Its celebration of spring was perfect for this late April night. The entire work was performed with powerful vocal repetitions, soaring dynamics, and heavy percussive elements.
The full Chorus, Solos, and Sextets were presented in shifting luminosity. I was most riveted to the final ‘Court of Love”, with its blazing, sharp refrains. Not only was the Chorale in fine form, but tonight’s guest soloists, José Lemos, Jonathan Beyer, and Christine Arand sang the tenor, baritone, and soprano solos of “The Sun tempers all things’, “The Swan’s song”, and “Sweetest one”, making a persuasive impression. In the Part II “Court of Love”, Jonathan Beyer, bass, sang the baritone solo, “I am the Abbot of drink, dice, and love”, with remarkable and glowing depth.
Earlier in the evening these soloists were featured in five singular choral works. The Women’s Chorus was splendid in Franz Schubert’s opening work, Gott in der natur. With piano accompaniment, the soaring sopranos and mezzos sang with spiritual finesse. In the Debussy, a light, impressionistic work, the piano brought out the effortless, dreamlike qualities in Christine Arand’s solo. Throughout the evening, Ms. Arand sang with warmth, a fullness of tone, and expressive personality. In the contrasting, atonal Thompson piece, the Women’s Chorus was bright. Bernstein’s The Lark, divided into “Spring Song”, “Court Song”, and “Soldier’s Song”, was performed with no instrumental accompaniment. Both Ms. Arand and José Lemos sang solos, with each of the men’s and women’s choruses alternating and blending with stylistic flourishes. Mr. Lemos has the ability to stretch his tenor to almost a soprano level, with vocal incandescence.
The final piece of the first half of the program was Carter’s In Defense of Corinth, half-spoken, half-sung, with the Men’s Chorus and Narrator accompanied by two pianists on one piano. Unfortunately the often troublesome acoustics at Fisher Hall muted the lyrics to the point of unintelligible. However, Philip Booth, Narrator, was spirited and resonant. Kudos to The National Chorale, Martin Josman, and tonight’s Guest Soloists and musicians.