Every time this occurs, once the music starts, I can't believe I even contemplated not attending. Well, tonight I was again impressed by Allison Stanford as she opened the concert with a heartfelt excerpt from Bach's Cantata BWV 82. The heartfelt part was an excellent counterbalance to the mathematical meanderings of Bach provided by piano and flute.
Following this were two of my favorite performances of the night. Kari Ringgenberg won the power contest tonight in my mind, with a strong clear voice singing a piece from Bach's Magnificat. I loved the oboe accompaniment, particularly since my older daughter plays it, and I have become aware of the difficulty involved, and the unique voice of the double-reed.
This was followed by William Goforth, who in two nights has become one of my favorites. The guy has a really unique and expressive stage presence, and his delivery of "Geduld, Geduld" from Bach's St. Mathew Passion was widely varied in dynamic range and feeling. And I LOVED the double bass accompaniment by Matthew Rosenthal. Sonorous and solid and plodding. Very cool. (that's official music critique terminology)
There was so much to like, I can't cover it all. And I have not the mastery of music terminology to really offer insight into the details, but a few rapid fire thoughts - throughout numerous pieces, Mira Magrill was fantastic on the flute, and the AMF festival last year and this has done more to make me a fan of the flute than anything else. The Festivals flutists, all around, are not "breathy" players. They sound strong, clear, and sharp, and give the flute a weight I hadn't attributed to it before. I also loved the trumpet by Daniel Miller in a piece by Scarlatti.
I was surprised to find my favorite song of the night was "How Cold The Wind Doth Blow" by Ralph Vaughan Williams. I've always wanted to like Vaughan Williams because I like his name. And I like pronouncing Ralph "Rafe". But I have A Sea Symphony, and have tried listening to it several times and just can't quite get into it. It may have something to do with my aforementioned preference for instrumental music. When I listen to Italian, German, French, and Russian singing, I have no clue what it means and just appreciate the melody like wordless instruments. But when it's in English...I don't know. It just seems awkward. Or feels less authentic. Like when Italian and German operas are converted to English. Or when the movie Das Boot is overdubbed with English.
But anyway, Joseph Olson, who had been playing piano accompaniment on several songs, came out and blew me away with this very touching, sad, and beautiful English folk song. It was awesome and gave me another Vaughan Williams piece I like besides Fantasia on a Theme By Thomas Tallis. Oh, and I could totally imagine it being performed by Florence + The Machine. How awesome would that be? I may have to post that suggestion on Flo's Facebook page.
And the whole thing wrapped up with a hilarious dueling song-piano-flute piece by Mozart - "Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman." I am not educated on this, but I recognized, of course, the core melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", which was performed in a very grandiose manner. The acting of vocalist Laura Snow and flutist Timothy Hagen was hilarious as they shot offended looks at each other and clashed in fits of virtuoso singing and...er...fluting? The audience loved it and it was a wonderful light-hearted end to the evening.
It was just what a lawyer needed to unwind after a long day.
On the drive home I needed something just to play quickly so I hit play on the iPod and found I had been in the midst of Shostakovich's String Quartets. Too heavy. I bounced over to one of my favorite composers - Schubert - scrolled a bit and landed on his Impromptus, not really remembering what they sounded like until I heard that familiar soft yet inexorable melody of #1 in C minor - which made me gesture in a slow conducting manner as I drove through the darkened, deserted streets of tiny Waterville under ominous clouds.