Monday, December 20, 2010

A Great Holiday Gift

New Trinity Baroque (NTB), conducted by Predrag Gosta, presented its Baroque Candlelight Christmas concert last evening. The program included:

• Georg Friedric Handel:

Concerto for Organ in F major, "The Cuckoo & The Nightingale," HWV 295

• Johann Sebastian Bach:

"Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen," cantata for soprano, trumpet and orchestra, BWV 51

- intermission -

• Johann Sebastian Bach:

"Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," Chorale Prelude for Organ (Schübler Chorale No. 1), BWV 645

• Antonio Vivaldi:

"Gloria" for soloists, choir and orchestra, RV 589

This was a wonderful concert in a nice setting, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. The Handel was performed by Brad Hughley on the church’s Rosales Organ. The music is delightful, well-known, and here, played sublimely by NTB and Mr. Hughley. Amanda Pepping, of Georgia State, played the natural trumpet. After a few warm up problems, Ms. Pepping mastered the devilish instrument admirably. The Bach Cantata was performed by the NTB, Miss Pepping and Wanda Yang Temko, soprano. Ms. Tempko is well-known around Atlanta and has developed an international career also. Her voice is smooth, well-controlled, and warm. She is not the least breathy. Her performance of the “Alleluia” at the end of the Cantata was exciting. I was fortunate to sit in the first row, middle seat during the performance and her voice was thrilling.

The Bach Chorale is a very familiar piece that was played in a clipped style by Hughley, which was entirely appropriate for this baroque masterpiece. Too often it is played in a bloated romatic style that makes it “pretty” rather than authentic. Hughley provided both- pretty and authentic.

The Vivaldi was performed with a small chamber choir, which was entirely appropriate for the setting and for the small size of the NTB. I recently heard the Gloria performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber chorus, which was a large-scale concert performance. Bopth approaches are valid, but the NTB performance was so intimate that it provided an opportunity to share what the experience must have been like in the royal courts of Vivaldi’s day. The chamber choir at times had to struggle against the volume of the NTB, but this is a miner quibble. The soloists for Gloria were Tempko and Zorica Pavlovic. The power of the voices of these two women was perfectly suited to the music.

The conductor of NTB is Predrag Gosta, who gives a brief review of the music before each performance. His enthusiasm for what is does is palpable. And he does a lot, from controlling the house lights, to helping move the harpsichord off the stage. He deserves much credit for the success of the NTB. In spite of it being made up of contract players, the NTB plays as if it were a well-established period orchestra. Gosta should take pride in what he has accomplished.

This was a great concert.

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