I adore St. Thomas and its long tradition of beautiful choral music in the Anglican tradition. In fact, when I'm not being a
|John Maclay, courtesy thechoralsociety.org|
Photo credit: unknown
As I say, all four soloists are fine singers, but one wonders why some of them were hired for the Verdi Requiem. Mr. Carlisle has a light, mellifluous sound, and he uses it beautifully, but his is not a voice for this role. In addition to simply having the wrong vocal color for the role, he often could not be heard at all, even when the quite rambunctious orchestra was silent or playing softly. Mr. Ahualli also was not the right man for the job. Verdi's masterwork requires a bass or bass-baritone, but Mr. Ahualli is a baritone--a very fine one, but simply not endowed with the vocal quality and heft in his low voice to do the role justice, and he, too, was difficult to hear at times, although when one did hear him, more often than not one was pleased.
Photo credit: unknown
I'm happy to say it was easy to hear Ms. Cariddi nearly all the time, which is not always the case with the mezzo in any quartet. The pushing that all four soloists seemed forced to do did less harm to her her sound than to some others, and her rich middle and lower registers were in ample supply, although her top was a little less shiny than usual. By contrast, I'm very unhappy to report that Ms. Williams fared the worst in the vocal battle. In the YouTube videos one finds (click the link above to find her site, wherein one can find a link to a lovely excerpt from a recent Aida), her voice is full and rich, with a healthy dose of that steeliness appropriate to spinto voices. I am forced to report that in this concert one heard too much steeliness and not enough richness. There were passages that were quite lovely, including the Requiem aeternam section of the Libera me, with its floated high B‑flat. Overall, however, I had trouble listening to Ms. Williams, and it pains me very much to say so.
Mr. Maclay had a capable reign on the orchestra, and one never found their sound underpowered. Perhaps a drag racing strip or a missile testing site might challenge this orchestra for decibels, but the choir and venue were cake to this canny and quite capable orchestra.
This was not a concert I regret hearing. I simply regret that so much potential beauty was forced aside because of crowding and acoustics.
UPDATE: I have learned that, in addition to the acoustics and crowding, the solo quartet sang the entire work twice through with the orchestra the day before the concert. I hope that The Choral Society will rethink this sort of rehearsal schedule in the future.
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