by Kevin T McEneaney
Last Sunday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lime Rock, CT, Crescendo, at a sold-out concert, delivered an extravagant production and performance of miscellaneous Baroque masterworks with choir and the largest ensemble of musicians that they have ever had, as its choir sang in Latin, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and English with a handful of specially recruited soloists under the enthusiastic direction of Christine Gevert with a program that ran from 1643-1787, covering religious and secular music, including opera and drama.
Violinist Edson Scheid led five other five violinists with passionate aplomb. Soprano Christina Kay ascended with high notes in several languages, while tenor Gregório Taniguchi sang with profound resonance. Countertenor Augustine Mercante provided the delightful shock that a good countertenor can provide. Bass-Bariton Anicet Castel offered sober contemplation. Mezzo-Soprano Alicia DePaolo
The twenty-page 8½ by 11” program included translations and informative notes. While individual performers excelled, it was the work of the immense choir singing in unison that imprinted that out-of-body experience called transcendental.
The range of topics was a rainbow of varied emotions from devotion to love amid the excessive metaphors that Baroque inclined toward: from the praise of a ship called Mary’s ark to the disparagement of threesome love, or the song that acclaimed Mars as the fifth planet (Mercury, Venus, Earth, the Moon, and then Mars). The strain toward sublime Baroque metaphors, which was a cute fashion of the era, more-often appears pretentiously comic today.
For this large chorus to sing in so many different genre modes and in so many languages created an amazing sense of wonder that made me feel some implicit guilt as I thought of how long they must have rehearsed to achieve such a level of astonishing excellence—that wonder is at the heart of the Baroque aesthetic. The highlight list of composers for this nearly two-hour concert included: Marc-Antonie Charpentier, Manuel de Zumaya, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Phillipp Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Zipoli, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, Christoph W. Gluck, and Henry Purcell.
In tandem with cute Baroque sensibility, the closing Finale featured the choir singing “Happy Birthday” (to Crescendo) in Latin, while the audience accompanied them in English, then brass trumpets which announced the curtain call of silence and excited conviviality with a wine and cheese reception.
Happy Birthday Crescendo, for you have outdone yourselves with such a memorable event that (in all likelihood) will never be repeated, excerpt in the memories of all those present!
If Crescendo discovers enough financial support for another ten year, I cannot imagine what they would do for a thirtieth anniversary concert, yet I am sure that they will find a way to do that under the direction of Christine Gevert!