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In Performance: Master Chorale's Fond Farewell

In today's Washington Post:

Master Chorale Exits the Scene on a Graceful -- and Wistful -- Note
, by Anne Midgette.

Previously in the Post, Marc Fisher wrote a longer piece about the chorus's demise, after my initial announcement of the news that they were going to disband. Washington still has an almost inconceivable wealth of choruses, but this certainly starts to change the picture. I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts about the effect that the Master Chorale's closing is going to have on the choral landscape in this city.


On the Web:
Time for Three: Trio Sonatas at the Smithsonian, by Charles T. Downey.

The Smithsonian Chamber Music Society presented a concert of trio sonatas by Purcell and Handel at the Smithsonian Castle on Sunday night. Both composers have anniversaries this year, and any chance to hear more of the music of Purcell, whose too-short life began in 1659, is a good thing.
(read more after the jump)

From the apse of the Castle's Gothic Revival "chapel," clear, well-balanced sound arced through the webbed vault to the back rows. Julie Andrijeski took the first violin parts in the Purcell pieces, with a more full-bodied tone and agile finger technique. The sound of a small chest organ played by SCMS founder James Weaver on some pieces bled into the other parts, perhaps because of an overly legato touch. The texture was more even with the quicker decay of the harpsichord. Only in the Canzona movement of Z. 795 did Purcell's intricate chromatic turns lead the players out of alignment, a crisis that was eventually resolved but not without some hair-raising clashes. The best discovery of the first half was the single-movement Z. 807, an inventive, asymmetrical chaconne with an extra measure tacked onto the traditional four-measure repeating bass line.

Founding member Marilyn McDonald took the first violin parts in the Handel sonatas, to less felicitous effect because of a chalky tone. Handel's trio sonatas seemed unoriginal and less inspired than Purcell's -- indeed one of them is now attributed by specialists to someone other than Handel. However, the second half also had its unexpected qualities, as the sound of a marching band drifted across the Mall during the final work, with the booming drum beats creating a cross-rhythmic experience of Ivesian proportions.

-- Charles T. Downey

By Anne Midgette  |  May 19, 2009; 6:29 AM ET
Categories:  Washington , local reviews  
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