Review: Cord program a success; 45-minute work intriguing

Cord program a success; 45-minute work intriguing

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | pjacobi@heraldt.com
February 14, 2012

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Edmund Cord teaches trumpet in the Jacobs School. He doubles as director of the Brass Choir. As both, he shows young musicians how to create the best possible sounds, singly with his trumpet students, in ensemble with the Brass Choir.

On Sunday afternoon, he did the ensemble thing, most successfully, and in the reserved manner he always exhibits. No ostentatious conductor he. Cord enters almost meekly, takes a bit of a bow and gets to work. Obviously he works astutely because what one usually hears from the Brass Ensemble, and did again on this occasion, is brass playing of high quality.

The Cord programs, too, always hold interest for their content. Sunday, as the concert opened, he had his players lined up in the balcony of Auer Hall, up front, on both sides of the organ. They burst into gloriously soaring, majestic canzons by two composers who died 400 years ago, the German Hans Leo Hassler and the Italian Giovanni Gabrieli. Joyful noises they did make.

The remaining pieces performed were of 20th century origin, all challenging, each different. “The Snows Descend,” by the British Judith Bingham, was a rewrite of her earlier choral work, a setting of Shelley’s poem “Mont Blanc;” the sounds asked for and produced were sonorous, rich, full.

“Timbered Bells,” written by Eric Nathan, a Jacobs School alum currently engaged in doctoral studies at Cornell, was meant, according to the composer, to reflect his experiences at the Tanglewood Music Center, where the work was first performed: the Berkshires, the woods and the sounds of brasses in the spacious outdoors. Though more discordant than the scenes would suggest, the piece was neatly structured and compelling.

A Fanfare from the “Antoine et Cleopatre Suite” by the French Florent Schmitt and the Fanfare, Chorale and Procession by the American Joshua Missal gave the musicians more opportunities to show their skills and revel in resonance. Conductor Cord kept a firm baton in hand throughout, as also during the closer, American Alfred Reed’s “Othello: A Symphonic Portrait in Five Scenes after Shakespeare,” an expressive set of musical sketches representing the where and what of the tragedy and climaxing with a haunting Epilogue, “The Death of Desdemona.”

In the evening, Poulenc

A bit of extra opera came along at the tail end of the weekend. Following those four IU Opera Theater performances of Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring” at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Francis Poulenc’s 1958 musical monodrama, “La Voix Humaine,” attracted an audience to Ford-Crawford Hall on Sunday evening.

Based on a play by Jean Cocteau, this intriguing 45-minute work follows a one-way phone conversation that a woman has with her unheard ex-lover. It will be her last conversation. He is marrying someone else. The opera is an extended goodbye, mingling recollection, hope, fear, pleadings, threats, resignation and despair.

Tackling this one-woman showcase was Performer Diploma candidate Olivia Savage. The soprano had worked in a sort of one-on-one Graduate Opera Workshop with Carol Vaness, who helped her get the act together. A splendid act it was, a tour-de-force dripping with hysteria. Vocally, Savage spoke, sang, quivered, shrieked, wept. Dramatically, she exhibited the woman’s intense emotional ride. With the excellent pianist Piotr Wisnieweski as her “orchestra,” Savage showed persuasive command of an ambitious, exacting and undoubtedly exhausting assignment.

 

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2012

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