The narrator of Louis Spohr's Six German Songs for soprano, clarinet and piano yearns for a quiet withdrawal from the world. But the real-life sufferer of oblivion is Spohr himself.
Spohr's rarely heard songs, which hover between unbearably cloying sweetness and simple charm, were given a sensitive reading by Rosa Lamoreaux at the American Goethe Society's Christmas concert Wednesday night. Sometimes there was a problem in maintaining balance among Lamoreaux, clarinetist Claire Eichhorn's assertive piping and pianist Margaret Otwell's lightweight playing.
Another forgotten German Romantic, Peter Cornelius, was given a nod. "The Christmas Songs," Op. 8, are wonderfully expressive art songs. The charming nostalgia of Gordon Jacobs's Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet also suited the mood well.
Although this event was billed as a Christmas concert, it was also a voice recital by one of this city's hardest-working sopranos. Vocal strain must have caused the ragged ending of "Exsultate, jubilate," K. 165. But one wants to hear more from this most Mozartean of singers than a string of silvery "hallelujahs." With luck it won't be long before Lamoreaux bounds onstage as Despina or Zerlina.
To conclude, the Chamber Artists of Washington led a bilingual Weihnachtslieder sing-along. Fueled by rich sweets, a warm blast of gemuetlichkeit pervaded the stark, drafty German Embassy hall. Curiously, a Goethe Society representative insisted on delivering biographical notes in Deutsch; thus, only German-speakers were privy to the Chamber Artists' credentials.