The last cultural event I attended before sandy blew through town was the Philadelphia Singers’ all-American concert, which was held last Sunday, Oct. 28, at trinity Church, Philadelphia. Conductor was David Hayes. The program included Carter’s two Dickinson settings and Copland’s In the Beginning, as well as Persichetti’s Winter Cantata, which I had not heard before but hope to hear again. I’ve never much cared for Persichetti’s symphonies, but this piece, scored for chorus, flute and marimba, was attractive, in an icy sort of way.
I found the second half of the program somewhat weaker than the first (or maybe, I was just getting tired): Randall Thompson’s Odes of Horace and Morten Lauridsen’s Firesongs struck me as somewhat generic and anonymous, at least compared with the more personal statements of the other composers on the program. It’s hard to stand up to Carter and Copland in the best of times.
The performances were uniformly strong. Alyson Harvey, the soloist in the Copland, was angelic, standing up there in the pulpit, above the rest of the singers. I was most familiar with the Carter (naturally), and I used his music as my benchmark: Hayes & Co. did well by him, and I figured they must have done equally well with the others. Illogical, I know, but we tell ourselves such things to make sense of the world. In any event, I noticed no glitches. “Heart Not So Heavy as Mine” was beautifully done, and the fade out in “Musicians Wrestle Everywhere” made time stand still.
When the concert let out, the storm was on its way, but it wasn’t raining very hard, I walked over to FYI music, which was having a 75-percent-off sale on some classical overstock. Picked up some Schumann lieder (Matthias Goerne and Eric Schneider) and a complete Don Giovanni for twelve dollars all together. I should have listened to the Don Giovanni in the aftermath of the storm, but somehow I never got around to it. My apartment never lost power, but my office did, and I was home for three days.