It was a long ride out to Laurel for this reporter, but it must have been an around-the corner trip for most of the enthusiastic listers who filled St. Mary's Church earlier this month for Laurel Oratorio Society's performance of Haydn's "The Creation."
Director Mark Tardue has turned the Oratorio society into a most effective vocal instrument. His attacks and releases are precise, and he permits his sopranos and altos to sing in their natural voices without forcing them into the kind of diesembodied organ-principal sound one encounters so often in other choral groups. The virility of his choral sounds is admirably suited to the Haydn score.
Enthusiasm has a tendency to lead to dynamic overstatements. This was the case in "The Heavens Are Telling" at the conclusion of the first part of the Oratorio.
Tardue assembled a fine vocial trio for the performance. David Smith, tenor, has a most evenly scaled voice and seemed to be the most seasoned singer in the trio. The harpsichord was pitched slightly below the orchestra and that may account for the impression that Smith sounded somewhat sharp in the recitativos.
Judith Smith has a beautiful, well groomed and sometimes slgihtly pointed soprano, ideally suited for her parts as Gabriel and Eve. Perhaps, in her desire for artistic correctness and faithful adherence to the text, she missed the inner felicity of the famour, aria, "With Verdure Clad."
Dale McKinley, a fine and impressive Raphael and Adam, could have beenperfect if he would learn to control a little mor the upper Tessitura of his otherwise splendid bass voice. The human voice makes its own crescendo when ascending; therefore, control and even retraction of sound becomes an aesthetic nessity.
Criticism should not dismiss the fact that this was a very fine performance of "The Creation."