To the delight of chamber music buffs, this town is teeming with splendid string quartets, baroque orchestras and miscellaneous small instrumental groups. What is clearly lacking, however, is a thoroughly professional solo vocal ensemble. The Wolf Trap Chamber Singers aspire to fill this vacuum, and there is no reason why, in time, they shouldn't.
They are led by Paul Traver, a musician of great experience and eminence. Of the five singers, all but the sopranos would be the Indy 500 of any vocal group, and they have, potentially, an audience eager to soak up every choral tidbit they can conjure up.
At the Barns at Wolf Trap last night, it was evident, however, that there needs to be a lot more rehearsing and serious attention to programming for these aspirations to be fulfilled.
The program looked promising on paper--music of Chutz, Monteverdi, deFreitas Branco and Bach--but in fact it was rather dreary.
Chutz, the preeminent forerunner of Bach's Germanic artistry, studied in Venice as a young man and produced, during the period, 19 madrigals on Italian texts that rather were like clones of Monteverdi pieces. They are lovely and the three on the program are among the finest of these. But when followed by the four madrigals of Monteverdi's "Lamento d'Arianna" and then by four Portuguese pieces in a similar vein, they were stultified by a sameness that was not helped by the lack of dynamic variety or by the pitch insecurity of the singers.
After intermission Bach's "Hunt Cantata" provided a change of pace. Here the Smithsonian chamber players gave fine stylish support to the singers and, together, in the ensemble recitative "Ich Liebe Dich" and the chorus "Lebe Sonne Dieser Erden" produced some of the most pleasant music of the evening.