Friday, August 01, 2014

Soprano Mary Wilson with American Bach

During American Bach Soloists' Summer Festival & Academy, I heard soprano Mary Wilson in a recital featuring 3 virtuoso solo cantatas. Her voice is wonderfully secure, even & focused & has a nice firm feeling. She seems to be a very efficient singer & sounded consistently fresh despite the demanding program. Her interpretations were musical & decorous & her stage presence cheerful. She communicated the texts so clearly that I didn't feel the need to read the translations.

A conductorless ensemble of 8 accompanied her for Handel's Tra le fiamme, & there was good synchrony between her & gamba player Kenneth Slowik. The Bach cantata Non sa che sia dolore had swaying tempos, & Ms. Wilson easily expressed its happy conclusion. In the introductory Sinfonia, flute soloist Sandra Miller was agile & had a soft-edged sound. The concluding Vivaldi cantata In furore iustissimae irae used an orchestra of 12 & was the only piece with a conductor. Ms. Wilson tackled the tricky coloratura passages effortlessly, as if there was nothing to worry about.

Two instrumental numbers gave Ms. Wilson a break between cantatas. When harpsichordist Corey Jamason walked out to play a Bach solo concerto, he joked that the stage looked "bare & lonely" with only a harpsichord on it. His playing of the outer movements was rapid, & his phrasing in the last movement had a feeling of lift-off. The instrument by John Phllips reverberated well & sounded high & bright.

There was one player per part for the Vivaldi Concerto for 4 Violins, & the entire ensemble played vigorously. Violinists Elizabeth Blumenstock & Robert Mealy had somewhat contrasting styles, which added to the liveliness. The audience clearly enjoyed the piece & cheered the soloists.

At the end of the concert, Ms.Wilson received a warm audience response & treated us to 2 Handel opera arias as encores. Maestro Thomas announced the 2nd encore simply as "Piangero," & the knowledgeable ABS audience knew right away he was referring to Handel's Julius Caesar. Ms. Wilson signed CDs in the lobby afterward. During the intermission my concert companion had a conversation with a patron who called herself an American Bach groupie.

§ Mary Wilson, soprano
Distinguished Artist Series, ABS Festival & Academy 2014
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

Tra le fiamme (Il consiglio), HWV 170
George Frideric Handel

Concerto in D Major for Harpsichord Solo, BWV 972
Johann Sebastian Bach
Corey Jamason, harpsichord

Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209
Johann Sebastian Bach

Concerto in B minor for 4 Violins, RV 580
Antonio Vivaldi
Elizabeth Blumenstock, Robert Mealy, Katherine Kyme, Noah Strick, violins

In furore iustissimae irae, RV 626
Antonio Vivaldi

"Vezzi, lusinghe, e brio" from Ariodante by Handel
"Piangero la sorte mia" from Giulio Cesare by Handel

Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM
S.F. Conservatory of Music

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