Carolina Baroque is ‘splendid’
By Ann Listokin
For the Salisbury Post
Dale Higbee: Bach scholar, accomplished recorder player, devoted musician, and musical entrepreneur, has given us another splendid program with Carolina Baroque.
On Friday Oct. 16, the large audience enjoyed an evening of Bach cantatas, some familiar like The Kreuzstab (Gladly do I bear the Cross); some like #166, “Man,whither goest thou?” and No. 32, “Dearest Jesus, my desire,” very rarely heard. All are memorable works by this most magical and important composer.
These cantatas, for baroque instruments and four voices (SATB), describe man’s sorrows; his yearnings, fears, joys; and longing for God. The different voices express all this in various ways ó solo arias, recitatives, and even, in No.32, a very moving duet between the Soul and Jesus.
There is much evocative text-painting throughout, as in “Carry the Cross,” where the bass sings “Carry” for four long bars. Doug Crawley sang this and other demanding solos with marvelous expression and richness.
Lee Morgan’s smooth mellow tone was a pleasure and lively as she rollicked her way thru the repeated word “laughing” ó more text-painting by Bach.
Teresa Radomski gave a powerful and stirring rendition of the soprano choral in No. 166, describing the soul’s unwavering firmness. In more intimate passages she had a quality of tender loveliness.
The beautiful playing of the instrumental ensemble added luster to the evening. The violin, played by John Pruett, was especially touching in No. 33, intertwining with Morgan’s longing alto line and relentless string plucking.
Spirited virtuoso recorder playing was given by Higbee, and Susan Bates excelled with the little Organ Prelude. Beginning the program. Richard Cook’s compelling tenor started the journey through Bach’s cantatas-and man’s earthly journey-with strength and conviction.
Bach is kind to the listener. After the travail in each piece, at the end, the four singers rise and sing a gentle chorale. Two men and two women-humanity indeed-singing us a consoling message. Bach’s music leaves the listener inspired and hopeful.
A final note about some unplanned text-painting at Friday’s concert. In No. 166 Crawley sang, “At any time the LAST HOUR STRIKES!” In the ensuing pause sirens suddenly rang out as an ambulance drove past St. John’s Church. Coincidence?
Ann Listokin is a member of the music faculty at Wake Forest University.