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An evening of musical genius

Friday evening Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. the Oriana Singers and the New York Chamber Soloists Orchestra, both under the direction of conductor William Metcalfe presented an all-Bach concert entitled: Bach: Christmas Ornaments: Music of Genius for a Festive Season by Johann Sebastian Bach. The concert took place at College Street Congregational Church in downtown Burlington.

The sold-out concert opened with Motet VI, Lobet den Herrn (BWV 230) for chorus and strings. The precision of the chorus in the opening measures set expectations high for the quality of performance the audience was going to enjoy. The entire motet bubbled over with with bright sound, well-executed melismata, and the final alleluia filled the church.

The Concerto in D minor for two violins and strings (BWV 1043), its three movements marked vivace, largo ma non tanto, and allegro was performed by Curtis Macomber and Emily Popham. Tempi were quick and precise, the largo wonderfully lyrical, the final allegro taken at a tempo that reflected the last movement of the motet which preceded it.

The balance of the first half of the program was occupied with Cantata 51, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (BWV 51) for soprano, trumpet, and strings. The soloists were Jane Snyder, soprano, and James Duncan, trumpet. Snyder sang well in the broad sense of the term, but her performance could be even more admirable if she paid more attention to melodic leading (by which I mean to take into consideration where the line is going to end up, so that she can vocally surprise the audience as to where the key change has taken the music, not be herself surprised - as at least one time she failed to do; it is a very subtle but important factor in the performance of any music). She clearly has the necessary basic voice for this literature, but it has not yet bloomed into anything like the voice that is clearly available to her. Duncan produces a marvelous sound on his trumpet. He is capable of matching the string sound and the soprano sound as well. He also produces a wonderfully melodic sound, and of him it would never be said that he overbalanced whoever the other soloists were. His trills are clean and crisp and both here in this cantata and wherever else he played through the balance of the program, the same praise is due him.

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