28 November 2004
Live Concert Critique
The Iwakuni Concert Spiriual performance seemed exquisite enough to provoke such a statement, and complete enough to merit such a response. Conducted by Philip Williams, the ensemble performed Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Monsieur de Mauroy,the works epitomizing the elegance, grace and piquant pointlessness of the French Baroque.
The piece was superb constructuction seemed equivalent of the Baroque Period. The piece had melancholic complex opening which then composes itself into an appropriate expression of enthusiasm. William's conducting technique was clarity by itself. It seems as if he physically etched out the beat points, sculpted the fermatas, chiseled the pitches, and molded the inflections in the air. The resulting textures were complex and gorgeously melodic, with almost subliminal harmonies.
William's dynamics were inspiring; this was apparent in the Marche pour les trompettes and during the second half of the Te Deum. He set up a dynamic plane, and then project a crescendo outwards in a clean, sharp line, lifting it out of the plane while simultaneously suppressing the other instruments. It was like watching an artist paint foreshortened figures, with animated plays of perspective. Mr.Williams managed several such dynamic layers at the same time, and conducted with a curious mixture of control and abandon. The performance appeared choreographed to the 100th degree, controlled in such detail that it became more spontaneous than spontaneity.
The conductor focused his choral passages by centering them on one or two prominent vocal parts, and allowing these to shine through the general texture. The orchestra performance seemed highlighted and was sung real sharp, enhancing the relief. The blend in the men's section of the chorus was beautiful without being homogeneous, and Allen Henning, was formidable. He owned every note he sang. His voice was filled with power, immediacy, and an astringent sweetness as he knit the passagework into luminosity, especially in the Credo of the mass. It was a superb rendition, one that was only...