Some of the area's finest musicians donated their time and their talents yesterday in a concert at Montgomery College to benefit local needy families. As is the case with most potpourris of this sort, moments of marvelous art alternated with more routine music-making.
Soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, who displayed stunning diction in the Bach aria "Ich bin vergnu gt in meinem Leiden" and glorious conviction in the chorale of Bach's Cantata No. 51, "Jauchzet Gott," was at her vocal best in a set of songs by local composer Toby Tate. The opening "Vocalise," a sensuously lyrical exploration of both western and eastern modalities, gave her a chance to exercise her gorgeous legato control, and the final note of the last song, "Forgotten," was, in its quiet authority, perhaps the high point of the afternoon.
Violinist Jody Gatwood flew through a performance of the "Winter" section of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," never sounding hurried, never missing a note or blurring an arpeggio.
The orchestra, a sea of familiar faces, was led by Catherine Comet, the associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony. Her upbeat reading of Schubert's Fifth Symphony needed more articulation, and the finale, like the Vivaldi, was too fast for comfort. Comet seemed most comfortable with Debussy's "Danse sacre'e et danse profane," where the balance between orchestra and the solo harp was well handled. Harpist James Pinkerton gave a beautifully agile and rhythmically secure performance.
Brian Ganz's musical and intensely introspective reading of a Chopin E flat major nocturne was an altogether too brief appearance of this gifted pianist.
The concert began with a relaxed and somewhat soggy performance of Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," highlighted by some splendidly assertive timpani playing by Alfonso Pollard.