Why would anyone in Kansas City ever listen to mediocre music? This August 16 program featured eight fine musicians, performing in the nave of Grace and Holy Trinity (Episcopal) Cathedral, filling the rock, glass and wood chamber with glorious music; the reasonably quiet air conditioning helped to diminish the effects of the 91°ƒ summer heat.
First up was Jordan Buckner, with cathedral music director, Canon John Schaefer playing the portative organ figured bass part, playing the the Sonata in F Major for flute, by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739). Her mellow flute enlivened the stone walls with properly dotted rhythms (thank you); she maintained the gentle touch on high fast passages, allowing the beauty of the melodies themselves to shine.
Baritone, John Pinkston was tasked with presenting Le Bestiaire by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) a whimsical vocal cycle saunter through the zoo. Even without the French lyrics in hand, attentive audience members were able to follow the comic onomatopoeia ably projected by the singer, and aptly punctuated by the piano stylings of Mr. Schaefer.
Oboist for three Missouri symphonies, Meribeth Risebig played “The Winter’s Past” by Wayne Barlow (1912-1996) with John Schaefer providing the orchestra on the piano. Mr. Barlow completed this 1938 work about a year after joining the Eastman faculty. Provided the title, one can easily visualize the melting snow, gentle rains, sprouts of hyacinths, and odor of wet wild garlic amid the last vestiges of snow. Ms Risebig navigated skillfully through the restful, winding melodies wistfully, as the piano accentuated dissonances passing into sweetness, usually in a triplet-duple patterns.
Alto and Catholic liturgist, Patricia Eccles, applied her light legato instrument to “Chanson L’Amour,” of Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). The catalog of attributes of the admired one sparkled softly through the room mostly above the undulating accompaniment provided by Canon Schaefer.
Burrill Phillips (1907-1988) composed a seldom heard “Concert Piece,” for bassoon and string orchestra (piano) in 1942, played in this program by Claudia Risebig and John Schaefer. The initial staccato bassoon notes had a phrased connectivity, that put them quite at home with the contrasting legato sections. Mr. Phillip’s work is easily accessible, bearing a close resemblance to that of Ferde Grofé and Aaron Copland.
Charles Villers Stanford (1852-1924) instructor to many of the notable early 20th Century English composers, was represented with Bible Songs, Op. 113, sung by Kansas City Chorale baritone, Paul Davidson, joined by Lynne Tidwell, organist at Bishop Spencer Place and at St. John the Baptist Church on Strawberry Hill, playing the cathedral’s Gabriel Kney tracker organ. Composed for voice and choir; much of the more expressive reaffirmations were simulated on the organ. Mr. Davidson’s devotionally smooth interpretations were reminiscent of the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, thoughtful, sonorous, and endlessly legato.
Sunday, August 30, the cathedral will host the Lyric Arts Trio, presenting “Remembering the Great War” at 2:00 PM. On Sept 5, Chicago soprano, Alison Burns will present songs and solos from the operas. Please come.