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Despite her headlining status, Jarboe attracted a paltry crowd in the concert room, as most of the promgoers chose to dance in the DJ room. Unfortunately, the thumping of dance beats could be heard in both rooms and overpowered an a cappella duet between Jarboe and Nelson on the traditional "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes." Even with that setback, Jarboe delivered a powerful performance -- one that would have been better suited to a smaller, more intimate venue that wasn't simultaneously hosting a dance party a few feet away.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
Choral Arts Society of Washington
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" are the consolatory, telling words from the Lutheran Bible that open Johannes Brahms's beloved "A German Requiem." Rather than conjure up the ferocity and all-encompassing power of a final judgment of a departed soul, this seven-movement choral masterwork speaks more gently to those left behind.
On Thursday evening at the Kennedy Center, the Choral Arts Society of Washington moved gracefully and touchingly through this rich score.
"A German Requiem" gets a lot of concert time, so it was a relief to hear the society's music director, Norman Scribner, draw out such an impassioned and intelligent performance. The chorus continually imbued the texts with a glowing yet carefully delineated sound. Whether in the gentle textures of the opening or the more stressed chords of the second movement, each chorus section skillfully dropped in and out of the foreground with fine intonation, rhythmic exactitude and careful diction.
Baritone David Arnold brought a noble simplicity to the texts, deploying a well-rounded if somewhat small voice. Soprano Twyla Robinson's lovely singing was the equivalent of a musical balm, as she radiantly floated above the chorus with a motherly sweetness. This strong performance held together nicely throughout, as these ardent solos mingled with the blossoming chorus and energetic orchestra, which everywhere played with sensitivity and polish.
-- Daniel Ginsberg
Krisztina David and Marko Kathol
Vienna and Budapest sent two of their best operetta singers to Washington for concerts Thursday at the Hungarian Embassy and last night and tonight at the Austrian Embassy. On Thursday evening, under the auspices of the Embassy Series, soprano Krisztina David and tenor Marko Kathol were accompanied idiomatically by Washington pianist George Peachey, who also joined Washington violinist Peter Sirotin in a sizzling performance of four Brahms "Hungarian Dances."
David began her performing career as a dancer, and she moves with the kind of grace associated with that discipline, but her key qualities in this program were a silvery upper register and a subtle sense of humor. She used them with brilliant effect in Adele's laughing song from "Die Fledermaus" and the Vilja song from "The Merry Widow," among other selections.
Kathol showed considerable skill as an actor -- comic in his intoxicated treatment of the Maxim's song from "The Merry Widow" and dramatically intense in "Komm, Zigan" ("Play, Gypsy") from "Countess Mariza," which was the primary highlight of a program filled with them.
The two worked smoothly together in several duets, most memorably "Lippen schweigen," the "Merry Widow" waltz, where they danced as well as sang.
-- Joseph McLellan