WESTMINSTER CONCERT SERIES, “The Dance of Love,” Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Westminster College, Feb. 23
The Westminster Concert Series must be applauded for its innovative approach to programming. Each season series director Karlyn Bond goes the extra mile to ensure that audiences are presented with the broadest scope of music imaginable, performed by Westminster College’s talented music faculty as well as local and national guest artists.
Monday’s concert teamed up Emily Nelson, soprano, and Christopher Le Cluyse, tenor, co-founders of Utopia Early Music, and Westminster faculty members Aubrey Adams-McMillan, mezzo-soprano, and Michael Chipman, baritone. They were joined by Westminster pianists Emily Williams and Kimi Kawashima and lutenist David Walker, a frequent participant at Utopia concerts.
The concert featured a wonderfully conceived and imaginative program that explored the various stages of love as seen through the ages by composers as diverse as Guillaume de Machaut and Johannes Brahms.
And instead of arranging the works chronologically, as one might have expected, the program mixed up style periods and placed pieces together based on thematic context. It was a fabulous way to do it. It put each of the works in a new perspective and showed that it wasn’t just the romantics who were passionate about love.
One of the most powerful pieces on the program was John Dowland’s “Flow My Tears,” sung with feeling and refined expressiveness by Chipman, accompanied by Walker. That was followed by Franz Schubert’s “Mignon und der Harfner,” another poignant song that was beautifully delivered by Nelson and LeCluyse, with Kawashima at the piano.
McMillan, with Williams at the piano, lent her rich and warm mezzo to Stefano Dunaudy’s poignant “O del mio amato ben,” giving a touching account that captured the tender sensitivity of the lyrics.
Rounding out each half of the concert was a short sampling from Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, which united the four singers and the two pianists. These selections were well chosen (nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 were performed at the end of the first half, and nos. 14, 17 and 18 at the end of the program). It was a wonderful collaboration that brought out the many moods that Brahms expresses in these short and gorgeous songs.