BCO a delight to the ear

Burlington Choral Society

In the Ira Allen Chapel at the University of Vermont, Burlington Choral Society presented its annual fall/winter concert. The mainstay was the Mass in D. minor, sometimes referred to as the "Lord Nelson Mass", by Josef Haydn. Also on the program was a Mozart motet, Alma Dei Creatoris. K. 277 and the Serenade in G. K. 525 (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik).

As a general comment, there were times when things seemed uneasy between the conductor, David Neiweem, who is the Music Director and Conductor for the group. For example, the opening of the third movement of the Serenade was untidy, in part due to slow page turns by the members of the orchestra string sections. The soloists for the Haydn Mass also at various times seemed uncomfortable either with the music or with the physical distance between them and Neiweem -- an appreciable distance in the Ira Allen Chapel. In fact, the tenor soloist, Daniel Marcy, and the baritone Larry Rudiger, seemed much more secure than the two female soloists, Lisa Wolff and Evelyn Kwanza, soprano and mezzo-soprano in that order. Wolff, whose voice reminded me somewhat of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf -- a certain sharp, fast spinning sound -- seemed very uncomfortable. Kwanza, who has a more lush sound, seemed to have a very short breath span.

The chorus performed well in the Haydn Mass -- with one or two minor slightly-late entrances. The Alma Dei was more unsatisfactory. It probably works best within the liturgical setting, because it was undoubtedly followed by some chanting immediately upon the last notes of the motet's dying fall; without that, the work is a great and at times complicated work whose close is anticlimactic and somewhat unsatisfying in a concert performance. It spends a great deal of time repeating the brief text to no particular effect.

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