Cantata Singers’ “All Britten”

[The preview for this review can be found here.]

A bit late for the review, but I did end up attending the Cantata Singers’ “All Britten” concert a couple of weeks ago. To recap, the program was as follows:

Friday, January 16, 8:00 pm – Jordan Hall
Lachrymae: Roger Tapping, viola
Five Flower Songs
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings: Michael Slattery, tenor; Michael Thompson, horn
Phaedra: Janna Baty, mezzo-soprano
Rejoice in the Lamb, orch. Imogen Holst: First Boston performance of chorus-orchestral version

The reviews in The Boston Globe and the Phoenix were both highly complimentary. As for me, I fully enjoyed “Lachrymae”, the opener. I found the orchestra to be a bit subdued (although their performance could be interpreted as “subtle” I suppose), but the violist, Tapping, was an expressive and agile performer. “Phaedra” was also beautifully and intensely performed. The soloist was soprano Janna Baty, and her performance was fully (and appropriately) dramatic and operatic. The works for chorus were also highlights: the “Five Flower Songs” were nicely presented, and the chorus especially revelled in the rollicking “Ballad of Green Broom”. Likewise they brought out all the humor of “Rejoice in the Lamb” and, if not quite convincing me it was more than a curio, enabled me to enjoy it nonetheless.

The biggest disappointment was the concert’s centerpiece, the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, which is too bad since the work seems to be done far more rarely than it should. I found the young tenor Michael Slattery’s performance to be mannered, on-the-surface playacting that lacked any real depth. His sotto voce, breathy melodramatics grew wearying, despite ample and strong support from the orchestra. A significant dip in an otherwise enjoyable evening, but regardless it was an attractive program overall and I’m looking forward to enjoying more of the Cantata Singers Britten season. More reviews to come, as the performance of Noye’s Fludde on February 7 is fast approaching.

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