If your idea of a great New Year’s Eve (or, more accurately in this case — a New Year’s Eve’s Eve) celebration is solid and well-honed professionalism, then the National Gallery was the place to be on Sunday for its “Viennese New Year’s Concert” This year it was the Gallery’s Vocal Ensemble accompanied by pianist Maribeth Gowen and violinist Elizabeth Field that plumbed the repertoire of 19th century waltzes and operetta favorites for traditional seasonal offerings and, with a glitch or two, they did so very competently.
But if you prefer your celebration spiced with energy and excitement – dare I say merriment? – then soprano Rosa Lamoreaux was the evening’s go-to person. She was the only one on stage who seemed to be having a good time. She interacted (or tried to) with her three vocal partners, seemed to revel in the drama of the texts she was singing and, not incidentally, was in terrific voice. What mezzo-soprano Barbara Hollinshead, tenor Robert Petillo and bass-baritone Steven Combs served up with their well-schooled performances, on the other hand, came across more like a sense of duty than of enthusiasm or fun.
The program included vocal music by Haydn, Kalman, Stolz, Lehar, Brahms and and some Mozart (in particular the comic scene “Caro Mio Druck und Schluck”) that was quite delightful. On their own or in collaboration, Field and Gowen offered careful, well-groomed performances of arrangements of favorites like the Strauss “Blue Danube Waltz” and Vittorio Monti’s “Csardas.”
The audience in the packed hall enjoyed it all and the Gallery had to turn away a huge crowd of hopeful concert-goers that had gathered outside before starting time.
Reinthaler is a freelance writer.