The National Symphony's program at the Kennedy Center last night paired Haydn's Symphony No. 44 titled the "Trauer" or "Funeral" with Rossini's "Stabat Mater" and brought together two composers enamored of styles within which they freely expressed themselves.
Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos' reading of the Haydn, conservative and careful as it was, revealed, particularly in the adagio, a significant musical statement clothed in the trappings of classical mannerisms. Using an orchestra cut to chamber proportions, he drew from them chamber-like ensemble in the middle movements and exuberance in the outer sections.
The Rossini, squarely in the mainstream that led to Verdi, is a work whose operatic nature neither compromises with its subject matter, nor is any the less convincing for its idiom. Its success rests equally on orchestra, soloists and chorus, and last night's performance was served particularly well by two of the three forces--the orchestra and the soloists. The University of Maryland Chorus, singing correctly and, in the pianissimo a cappella sections, with transparent beauty, nevertheless sounded tired through much of the piece and was often overwhelmed by the orchestra.
The soloists, Kathryn Bouleyn, Florence Quivar, Enrico di Giuseppe and James Courtney, were in their elements stylistically and were well matched in ensemble movements. Of the four, however, only Quivar found the artistic ideas beneath the surface of the lyricism. Her singing was lovely.