If there is a more sterling group of performers assembled this season in Atlanta's classical concert season, AMC will be very surprised. Its difficult to top Christine Brewer, Lynn Harrell, Sylvia McNair, Marietta Simpson and Robert Spano. Each of these performers had their lives touched in one way or another by Robert Shaw, the great choral conductor and former music director of the ASO.
Sylvia McNair provided spirited and charming excerpts from Cateloub's "Chants d'Avergne " Not only is she a great singer, Ms. McNair brought a bit of her acting skills during the performance. This is music that is romantic, playful, boasting, grateful, and exciting. She hit it all.
Christine Brewer sang the magnificent "Wesendonck Lieder" by Richard Wagner. AMC heard Ms. Brewer at the Blossom Music Festival this past summer- she was outstanding then as she was here. Click here to read that review: http://www.atlantamusiccritic.com/2013/07/were-talking-world-class-here.html. These lieder are at once yearning, sad, reflective, and loving. The music foreshadowed Wagner's Tristan and were written for his mistress at the time, the titular Mrs. Wesendonck. Ms. Brewer is one of our finest soprano's and she reached and found the haunting core of this music.
Mr. Harrell performed the familiar Bach Cello Suite No 1. AMC felt that the Prelude was played a bit underwhelmingly with some bowing problems. But as the performance progressed it become apparent why Mr. Harrell is a renowned cellist and a great musician. Bach's music is sublime and this was a focused, sensitive performance.
Ms. Simpson, accompanied by Mr. Spano performed three traditional spirituals. These are eloquent songs, powerful in their sadness, loneliness, desperation, and hopelessness. Ms. Simpson did them justice.
Unfortunately, there were twice as many open seats as there were occupied seats. This was a chance to see really grand talent but the audience just wasn't there. Too bad.
To hear a version of the Wagner piece, go here: