An overly enthusiastic audience crowded Kresge Auditorium last Wednesday evening to hear Richard Dyer-Bennet, folk-singer and guitarist, open the Harvard-M.I.T. Summer Series.
In spite of Mr. Dyer-Bennett's obvious skill in singing what one observer called the "la de da" ballads, he becomes, after steady listening, as entertaining as a ten-year-old Irish tenor singing "Danny Boy" for a local talent show. Dyer-Bennett's voice, unfortunately, lacks that twist of lemon peel which, for example, made Hank Williams something more than another hillbilly singer.
Admittedly this is a debatable opinion; those who swoon at "Sweet Nightingale" or "Fain Would I Wed a Fair Young Maid" will contest strongly any attempt to shroud Dyer-Bennett with the critic's cloak of scorn. Yet for one who seeks in a folk singer a versatility extending beyond repertory, including a versatility of personality, Dyer-Bennett falls short of being engaging.
One cannot, of course, quibble with Dyer-Bennet's success at mastering his craft. For an age that thrives on contrived noise misnamed music, he insists--successfully--on preserving the integrity of the music he sings and plays.
An all-French organ program was given in Memorial Church last night by Lois Pardue, Assistant University Organist and Organist of the Summer School. In keeping with the French tradition of "historical concerts," she covered over two centuries of composition, starting with Baroque works by Couperin, de Grigny and Clerambault.
From the 19th century, Mrs. Pardue chose Franck's B-minor Chorale, a slithering, amorphous, but colorful work.
In our own century, the French nation has taken more eagerly and seriously to organ composition than any other in the world. Mrs. Pardue consequently performed four recent works. Improvisatoy bombast characterizes the Hymne d'actions de graces by the blind organist Jean Langlais. Messaien's fine Banquet celeste, though an early work, bears the clear stamp of its composer, who has refused to adhere to any "school." It is seraphic, and mystically inconclusive. Jehan Alain's lucid Phrygian Ballade and familiar Litanies point up the great loss we suffered when this young composer was tragically killed in World War II.
Mrs. Pardue maintained the high standard of excellence we have come to expect of her. She will present another concert on July 22.