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Adams House Concert

The Music Box

By Stephen Addiss

Thesis: the Radcliffe Freshman Chorus singing a cappella. Antithesis: several local instrumentalists playing baroque sonatas. Synthesis: the Chorus and a small instrumental group joining for parts of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

Despite Hegel, on Sunday afternoon at Adams House the individual groups were better than the combination. The Radcliffe Freshmen, under Alan Miller, sang with a straightforward style that lacked the slightest affectation. They were at their best in a charming Hymn to Poseidon by Rameau, and Madrigals by Arcadelt, Banchieri, and Morley. A tendency for the first sopranos to get out of tune redeemed itself with sparkling performances of Two Hungarian Songs by Bartok and A Song of Music by Hindemith.

The instrumentalists were all of a high caliber. Flutist Karl Kraber exhibited a lovely dark tone in Bach's Sonata No. 2. He also kept his volume down so that the right hand of the piano, which is equal to the flute in trio sonata style, could be heard. In Bach's Second Violin Sonata Michael Day played with admirable musicianship; Bertram Baldwin accompanied at the harpsichord. Violinist David Hurwitz closed his part of the concert with a fine performance of Handel's Sonata in F. He played with restraint and a warm tone, and was ably assisted by Jonathan Thackeray, harpsichord, and Mary Davidoff, continuo.

When the Chorus joined the small string group, the results were less good, as lack of rehearsal meant the strings were out of tune. Much of the Stabat Mater is written for soloists: the two girls who sang the parts had agreeable voices, but not the faintest idea of how to breathe to support their tone. Luckily, the general good humor of Pergolesi's music plus some spirited choral singing saved the work from falling apart. Nonetheless, it was the impressive individual performances rather than a smooth combination that made the concert worth-while.

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